Before the largest crowd in Fifth Third Field history, Justin Verlander pitched a very strong outing in his second rehab start with the Toledo Mud Hens. Could his return to the Detroit Tigers’ rotation be far behind?
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Verlander’s day started off in unusual fashion as the game ball was delivered by a computerized velociraptor. Yes a dinosaur delivered the game ball to a former MVP. Thus is life in the minor leagues and Jurassic Park Night in Toledo.
J.V. scattered four hits in 5.2 innings and allowed one run–unearned. He struck out nine, walked none, and had several swings and misses (17 of his 93 pitches), which is a very encouraging sign for his recovery. He threw 69 strikes in those pitches.
Not long after receiving the dino-fed ball, Verlander allowed a leadoff single to Columbus Indians’ prospect Francisco Lindor but then retired the next 10 batters in order.
Fifth Third Field holds roughly 9,000 fans but 13,300 squeezed into the stadium to see Verlander, dinosaurs and the Mud Hens special Jurassic Park-themed uniforms ahead of Friday’s release of the fourth movie of the franchise, “Jurassic World.”
They were also there to see Bruce Rondon‘s latest rehab effort, but it did not go nearly as well as Justin’s. Rondon allowed three earned runs on four hits with three walks and fanned just one batter in 1+ inning. He also allowed a homer and threw 22 strikes in 39 pitches.
Rondon may need a little more seasoning, but it is clear that Verlander made the most of his second outing and will be rejoining the Detroit Tigers’ rotation at some point in the next week.
Detroit has two days off next week sandwiched around a two-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday and Wednesday at Comerica Park, so they may be able to tinker a bit to get favorable matchups and work Verlander in where they are comfortable.