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Astros' Verlander to make season debut Friday vs. Nats

Adam Hunger / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday against the Washington Nationals, manager Joe Espada announced, per Fox 26's Will Kunkel.

Verlander has been sidelined to start the season due to inflammation in his right shoulder.

"Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound," Espada said, according to The Associated Press. "It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction."

The 41-year-old made a pair of rehab starts, allowing 14 hits and 13 runs (11 earned) with nine strikeouts across seven innings.

Verlander will look to boost a slumping Astros rotation that ranks 26th in ERA (5.13), 24th in strikeouts (75), and 29th in WHIP (1.59). Houston has struggled to start the season, posting a 6-13 record through the first 19 games to sit in the basement of the AL West.

The Astros reacquired Verlander from the New York Mets at last season's trade deadline. The three-time Cy Young winner posted a 7-3 record with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 68 innings for Houston in 11 starts after the trade.

Verlander is earning $43.3 million in the second season of a two-year, $86.6-million contract he signed with the New York Mets ahead of the 2023 campaign. The deal carries a vesting option for $35 million in 2025 if Verlander reaches 140 innings pitched this season.

Houston optioned right-hander Forrest Whitley to Triple-A Sugar Land after Thursday's game to open a roster spot for Verlander, according to Chandler Rome of The Athletic.

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