George Springer is reportedly packing his bags and heading to the Rogers Centre.

Widespread reports claim the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150million contract with star free agent and MLB World Series champion Springer – the largest deal in franchise history, eclipsing Vernon Wells' $126m extension in 2006.

The emerging Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, had been looking to make a splash in free agency after recruiting ace Ryu Hyun-jin ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Toronto appear to have landed their number one target and one of the most coveted free agents this offseason, despite interest in the likes of Francisco Lindor and DJ LeMahieu, as they challenge the likes of the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox in the American League.

Springer – a World Series winner and MVP with the Houston Astros – brings a wealth of postseason experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in Toronto, where the Blue Jays also boast number one right-handed pitching prospect Nate Pearson.

Teoscar Hernandez also had a breakout season for the Blue Jays, resulting in his first Silver Slugger Award.

But what does Springer's arrival mean for the Blue Jays in their pursuit of a first World Series crown since 1993? We take a look using Stats Perform data.

Experience and lead-off ability

Springer led the Astros to ultimate glory in 2017.

The 31-year-old outfielder tallied a team-high 14 homers, 37 runs, 50 hits and 32 RBIs with a .265 average in 189 at-bats as the Astros reached the AL Championship Series (ALCS) last season.

Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time.

A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The three-time All-Star's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

In 15 career games at the Blue Jays' Rogers Centre, Springer has slashed .358/.453/.604 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.

Springer to compliment Toronto's young star power

It has been a long time since Jose Bautista's memorable bat flip and back-to-back trips to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016.

But Guerrero, Gurriel, Bichette and Biggio have given Blue Jays fans a lot to be excited about.

The big-hitting quartet took the MLB by storm during last season's coronavirus-shortened campaign, lighting up the league and helping Toronto to a 32-28 record before losing to eventual World Series participants the Rays in the AL Wild Card Round.

Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).

Blue Jays team-mate Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games (that is how many games he has played so far).

As for Guerrero, he is the only MLB player currently 21 or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.

Of players aged 25 or younger, the Blue Jays topped a number of categories last season.

Based on age at the time of games, the Blue Jays had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), XBH (93) and BB (103) in 2020.

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly reached a deal to sign star free agent and MLB World Series champion George Springer.

According to MLB.com and ESPN, the Blue Jays have agreed to a six-year, $150million contract with Houston Astros outfielder Springer, pending a physical.

The emerging Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, have been looking to make a splash in free agency as they seek to add experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, while Toronto also boast the number one right-handed pitching prospect in Nate Pearson.

Toronto had been eyeing the likes of Francisco Lindor and DJ LeMahieu, before the former joined the New York Mets and latter re-signed with American League (AL) rivals the New York Yankees.

But, after recruiting ace Ryu Hyun-jin ahead of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, the Blue Jays appear to have landed another big fish as they dream of World Series glory for the first time since 1993.

The reported deal to bring Springer – one of the most coveted free agents this offseason – from Houston would be the largest in Toronto's history, eclipsing Vernon Wells' $126m extension in 2006.

A World Series champion and MVP in 2017, Springer tallied a team-high 14 homers, 37 runs, 50 hits and 32 RBIs with a .265 average in 189 at-bats as the Astros reached the AL Championship Series (ALCS) last season.

Since making his MLB debut with the Astros in 2014, two-time Silver Slugger Springer has amassed 174 home runs, 567 runs, 832 hits and 458 RBIs with a .270 average in 3,087 at-bats.

The 31-year-old and three-time All-Star has hit 19 postseason home runs – tied for fourth on the all-time list.

The Tampa Bay Rays revelled in their American League Championship Series (ALCS) success after reaching the MLB World Series for the first time in 12 years.

Tampa Bay will feature in the World Series for just the second time after topping the Houston Astros 4-2 in the winner-takes-all Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday.

Eyeing their maiden World Series championship, the Rays are back in MLB's showpiece series for the first time since 2008 as either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves await.

Charlie Morton pitched 5.2 scoreless innings to set the tone for the Rays, allowing just two hits against his former team, while becoming the only pitcher in league history with four winner-take-all wins.

"It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time," Rays pitcher Morton said after the reduced MLB season went ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was very challenging, because at first it everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys."

Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Rays a 2-0 lead – a record-setting seventh home run by a rookie in a single postseason, per Stats Perform.

Arozarena also became the first rookie with a go-ahead home run in a Game 7 since Miguel Cabrera's homer in Game 7 of the 2003 National League Championship Series (NLCS) as he was crowned ALCS MVP.

Mike Zunino homered for the Rays, while Pete Fairbanks became the first rookie to save a Game 7 since David Price in the 2008 ALCS – both sent Tampa Bay to the World Series.

Rays manager Kevin Cash added: "Pretty special feeling. I don't know if I've had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids.

"This is right there below that. It can't get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of."

"We are lucky to have Charlie Morton," Cash said. "For a group that doesn't have a wealth of experience in these roles, Charlie does. He has been there done that. It lined up really really well for us."

The Tampa Bay Rays are World Series-bound for just the second time in their history after defeating the Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

A series decider was needed in the ALCS after the Astros won 7-4 on Friday – becoming the second team in MLB history to fall 3-0 behind in a best-of-seven matchup and force a Game 7.

But that is as good as it got for the Astros as the Rays – chasing their first championship – advanced to their first World Series since 2008 on Saturday.

Charlie Morton pitched 5.2 scoreless innings to set the tone for the Rays, allowing just two hits against his former team.

Morton is the only pitcher in MLB history with four winner-take-all wins after Tampa Bay's success.

ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Rays a 2-0 lead – a record-setting seventh home run by a rookie in a single postseason, per Stats Perform.

Arozarena also became the first rookie with a go-ahead home run in a Game 7 since Miguel Cabrera's homer in Game 7 of the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Mike Zunino also homered for the Rays, while Pete Fairbanks became the first rookie to save a Game 7 since David Price in the 2008 ALCS – both sent Tampa Bay to the World Series.

The Rays will face either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

The Dodgers forced a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) following Saturday's 3-1 triumph.

Los Angeles used a three-run opening inning to top Atlanta – Justin Turner and Corey Seager both homering for the Dodgers.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler pitched six scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and striking out six.

The Los Angeles Dodgers stayed alive in the MLB playoffs, while the Houston Astros forced a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Dodgers reduced the Atlanta Braves' National League Championship Series (NLCS) lead to 3-2 with a 7-3 victory on Friday.

Will Smith crushed a go-ahead three-run homer off Braves pitcher Will Smith in the sixth inning and the Dodgers never looked back.

Corey Seager went two-for-four with two homers and three RBIs for the Dodgers.

It came as both starters struggled – Dustin May getting through just two innings for the Dodgers while A.J. Minter was removed after three for the Braves.

Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly and Cristian Pache's RBI single had the Braves on track before Seager and Smith stepped up.

In the American League Championship Series (ALCS), the Astros became the second team in MLB history to fall 3-0 behind in a best-of-seven series and force a Game 7 thanks to a 7-4 win over the Rays.

Houston broke the game open in the fifth inning through three of their stars.

George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa all brought in runs as the Astros opened up a 4-1 lead – one they would not relinquish.

Framber Valdez delivered a fine start for Houston, striking out nine and conceding just three hits in six innings.

Both the NLCS and ALCS continue on Saturday.

Carlos Correa delivered a walk-off home run for the Houston Astros, while the Atlanta Braves moved within a win of the World Series on Thursday.

Correa's heroics gave the Astros a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, whose lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) has been cut to 3-2.

The Astros never trailed in Game 5, with George Springer hitting a lead-off home run to put them in front.

After Brandon Lowe's solo shot, Michael Brantley's two-run single pushed the Astros clear.

The in-form Randy Arozarena and Choi Ji-man crushed homers before Correa stepped up to deliver the game-winning blow.

"Carlos told me before he went up there, he goes: 'Walk-off'," Astros manager Dusty Baker said on MLB.com. "I said, 'Go ahead on, man'."

It marked the first time in postseason history that a team have hit a lead-off and walk-off homers in the same game.

The Braves are a win away from a first World Series appearance since 1999 after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 to take a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

Clayton Kershaw started, but the Dodgers star was outdone by Braves rookie Bryse Wilson.

Kershaw conceded seven hits and four runs in five innings, while Wilson got through six innings, giving up just one hit and striking out five.

A six-run sixth inning catapulted the Braves to victory as Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Cristian Pache all brought in runs.

Ozuna went four-for-five with four RBIs for the Braves, who can close out the series on Friday.

The Houston Astros stayed alive in the MLB playoffs, while the Los Angeles Dodgers made history in a resounding win on Wednesday.

Staring at being swept in the American League Championship Series (ALCS), the Astros edged the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to reduce the deficit to 3-1.

Zack Greinke delivered a fine start for the Astros, striking out seven across six innings and conceding five hits.

Jose Altuve crushed his 18th postseason home run and also had an RBI double in the third inning before Randy Arozarena's two-run homer brought the Rays level.

However, George Springer belted a two-run homer in the fifth as the Astros stayed alive in the playoffs.

Altuve and Stringer are tied for the most homers in the postseason for the Astros with 18.

The Dodgers thrashed Atlanta 15-3 to reduce the Braves' National League Championship Series (NLCS) lead to 2-1.

Max Muncy belted a grand slam and Joc Pederson hit a three-run homer in an 11-run first innings for the Dodgers

That marked the most ever runs scored in a single postseason inning.

Corey Seager went three-for-four with a home run and three RBIs for the Dodgers.

Braves starter Kyle Wright got through just 0.2 innings, giving up five hits and seven runs in the huge loss.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves moved further ahead in their respective MLB series on Tuesday.

The Rays are one win away from the World Series after a 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros saw them go 3-0 up in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

A five-run sixth inning set up the Rays' win in Game 3, with Joey Wendle hitting a two-run single and Hunter Renfroe a two-run double.

Jose Altuve's home run had put the Astros ahead and Michael Brantley also went deep in the sixth inning, but Houston are looking at a series loss.

Both starters – the Rays' Ryan Yarbrough and Astros' Jose Urquidy – got through five innings.

The Braves moved into a 2-0 National League Championship Series (NLCS) lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to an 8-7 win.

Atlanta held off a late rally from the Dodgers, who scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies both homered for the Braves.

Albies became the first player in MLB history to hit a ninth-inning homer in back-to-back playoff games, as per Stats Perform.

The Atlanta Braves powered past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), while the Tampa Bay Rays opened up a commanding lead over the Houston Astros in the MLB playoffs.

Atlanta – who won their first postseason series since 2001 entering the NLCS – drew first blood against the top-ranked Dodgers thanks to a four-run ninth inning at Globe Life Field on Monday.

Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley both homered in the ninth to blow the game wide open as the Braves earned a lead in the NLCS for the first time since 1999.

Riley's go-ahead home run ignited the Braves before Albies extended the lead with a two-run homer off Jake McGee.

Riley and Albies became the first pair of team-mates aged 23 or younger to hit a home run in the same inning in playoff history, per Stats Perform.

Atlanta took the lead through Freddie Freeman in the opening inning, before Dodgers utility Kike Hernandez restored parity with a fifth-inning homer.

Dodgers pitcher Blake Treinen was tagged with the loss after allowing three hits and three runs in just 0.1 innings, while Braves starter Max Fried pitched six strong innings – giving up just four hits and one run.

The Dodgers and Braves will meet again in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Charlie Morton impressed and Manuel Margot homered as the Rays claimed a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after defeating the Astros 4-2.

Morton pitched five scoreless innings, giving up just five hits as he exited with the Rays leading the Astros 3-0 in Game 2.

In four postseason starts with the Rays, Morton is now 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA. His four wins are the most by a Rays pitcher in playoff history.

Margot helped set the tone with a first-inning, three-run homer before thwarting a Houston comeback with an incredible tumbling-over-the-wall catch as the Astros had two runners in scoring positions.

The Tampa Bay Rays prevailed 2-1 in a nail-biting showdown against the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Tampa Bay drew first blood in the best-of-seven MLB playoff series after holding on to a one-run lead from the fifth inning on Sunday.

In a tense finale, the Astros loaded the bases against Aaron Loup in the eighth inning as Rays manager Kevin Cash turned to Diego Castillo.

Rays pitcher Castillo emerged the hero, needing just one pitch as Yuli Gurriel grounded into a double-play.

Castillo finished with five outs for the save for the AL East champions at Petco Park.

Astros star Jose Altuve homered off Tampa Bay ace Blake Snell in the first inning, but the Rays responded through in-form Randy Arozarena.

Arozarena hit a home run in the fourth inning to tie the game, going deep off Astros starter Framber Valdez.

Tampa Bay outfielder Arozarena became just the fifth rookie in MLB history with four-plus homers in a single postseason.

Mike Zunino then delivered the decisive RBI in the fifth inning.

Game 2 between the Rays and Astros is on Monday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers eased through to the National League Champions Series (NLCS), while the New York Yankees kept their MLB playoff hopes alive.

The high-flying and unbeaten Dodgers swept the San Diego Padres with a 12-3 rout in the NL Division Series on Thursday.

Will Smith went five-for-five against the Padres, setting a new Dodgers playoff record, while team-mate Justin Turner also set a mark with his 64th postseason base hit – breaking a franchise tie with Steve Garvey.

The Dodgers – back-to-back World Series runners-up in 2017 and 2018 before falling in the NLDS last year – used five runs in the third inning and four in the ninth to set up a blockbuster showdown with the in-form Atlanta Braves.

The Yankees, meanwhile, forced a deciding Game 5 after topping the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1.

Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres homered for the Yankees, who levelled the best-of-five ALCS at 2-2.

 

Braves end 19-year wait for NLCS appearance

The Braves will contest their first NLCS since 2001 following a 7-0 demolition of the Miami Marlins. The shut-out win sealed a sweep in the NLDS. Kyle Wright produced six scoreless innings and Travis d'Arnaud recorded another multi-hit performance. Atlanta also joined the 1905 New York Giants as the only teams to post four shutouts in five games at any point in a playoff campaign.

Houston Astros leftfielder Michael Brantley had one home run in 30 career playoff games entering Thursday's clash. He is now the first player in MLB postseason history with multiple homers after entering the game with one or fewer in 30-plus games, per Stats Perform. The Astros advanced to the ALCS for the fourth consecutive year courtesy of an 11-6 victory against the Oakland Athletics, which sealed a 3-1 triumph.

 

Sanchez struggles

Sixto Sanchez lasted just three innings for the Marlins. He allowed four hits, four runs and three walks in his joint-shortest outing the season.

It was a tough day and series for the Athletics' relievers. They combined for a 6.27 ERA in the ALDS, including six earned runs on Thursday. Starter Frankie Montas gave up five runs and seven hits in 3.2 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Braves 7-0 Miami Marlins
Houston Astros 11-6 Oakland Athletics
New York Yankees 5-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers 12-3 San Diego Padres

 

Yankees at Rays

It is winner-takes-all as the Yankees and Rays meet in Game 5 on Friday. The Yankees will send ace Gerrit Cole to the mound, while Tyler Glasnow starts for the Rays.

Randy Arozarena starred as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 8-4 for a 2-1 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS).

Rookie Arozarena hit a home run for the third consecutive game in the MLB playoffs to help fuel the Rays, who also benefited from homers via Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Perez on Wednesday.

The top-ranked Rays are now just one victory away from reaching the AL Championship Series for the first time in 12 years.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Dodgers edged the San Diego Padres 6-5 in Game 2 of their National League Division Series (NLDS).

Dodgers star Bellinger became the first player to hit both a homer and rob a home run in a playoff game since Allen Craig for the St Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, per Stats Perform.

The Dodgers lead the best-of-five series 2-0 and are on the verge of advancing after withstanding a fightback from the Padres, who rallied to score twice in the ninth inning, but it was not enough midweek.

 

Arozarena making history

The first-year Rays sensation has lit up the postseason. According to Stats Perform, he is the first rookie in AL history to have four successive multi-hit games in the playoffs. Arozarena also has 25 total bases in five games this postseason. It is the most total bases by any player (rookie or not) in his first five games of a single playoff campaign in MLB history.

The Rays also became the first team in MLB postseason history to have their starting number eight and nine hitters – Kiermaier and Perez – both have three-plus RBIs in the same game.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer against the Rays. He now has a "home-run cycle" in this series (solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam). Stanton joins Nelson Cruz (2011 ALCS) as the only players in league history to hit for the home run cycle in a single playoff series, per Stats Perform.

The Atlanta Braves blanked the Miami Marlins 2-0 as they moved within a victory of progressing to the NL Championship Series. Atlanta are just the third team in MLB history to pitch shutouts in three of their first four games in a single postseason, joining the 1905 New York Giants and 1966 Baltimore Orioles.

 

Wasteful Astros

The Houston Astros led 2-1 and 7-4 against the Oakland Athletics, but lost 9-7. Houston still lead the series 2-1 and can reach a fourth consecutive ALCS with victory on Thursday. Astros starter Jose Urquidy gave up five hits and four runs in 4.1 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka struggled for the Yankees, allowing five runs and eight hits in four innings.

 

Wednesday's results

Atlanta Braves 2-0 Miami Marlins
Oakland Athletics 9-7 Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 San Diego Padres
Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 New York Yankees

 

Rays at Yankees

The Rays can open up a 3-1 advantage if they beat the Yankees again on Thursday. Ryan Thompson starts for Tampa Bay, while the Yankees counter with Jordan Montgomery.

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-5 in the second game of their best-of-five American League Division Series at Petco Park in San Diego.

Matching the Yankees' four home runs in their game one win a day earlier, the Rays also set a new post-season record of 18 strikeouts.

Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino, Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows plundered the home runs for the Rays, with manager Kevin Cash hailing his side's spirited display.

"We needed a win today," he said. "We needed to find a way to win today and we did. Those guys put in some pretty gutsy performances."

Elsewhere, the Houston Astros are just one game away from the AL Championship Series after a 5-2 win over the Oakland Athletics in their second meeting.

In the National League Division Series, meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves saw off the Miami Marlins 9-5, while the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised past the San Diego Padres 5-1.

 

GLASNOW'S PACE BLOWS YANKEES AWAY

Tyler Glasnow was central to the Rays' victory over the Yankees, setting the tone for a superb pitching display from his side with some blistering throws.

The right-hander threw fastballs over 100 mph to Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks in the first inning, marking the fastest pitches of his career. In total, he registered eight pitches over 100 mph; the third most by a starter in a post-season game since data became available in 2008.

"With Glasnow, I mean he was just locating his fastball," Hicks said. "By doing that, it just makes his curveball that [much] more effective. That's pretty much throughout their whole pitching staff."

FRIED FAILS TO SIZZLE IN BRAVES WIN

Making his second career post-season start, Max Fried endured a game to forget despite the Braves' win. He lost Miguel Rojas' long home run in the second, before labouring amid a three-run, 31-pitch third.

 

WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULE

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres

The New York Yankees and Houston Astros produced big-hitting displays to steal a march on their higher-seeded opponents in Major League Baseball’s American League Division Series.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton hammered a grand slam over centre field to clinch a 9-3 game one victory over the ALDS top seeds, Tampa Bay Rays, at Petco Park in San Diego.

With the scores tied 3-3 in the fifth, Aaron Judge’s 10th career post-season homer edged the Bronx Bombers ahead before the ninth-innings onslaught.

In total, the fifth-seed Yankees had 15 hits, nine runs and four home runs, setting an MLB-record 31 runs and 11 home runs in three postseason games this year.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery, the MLB franchise announced on Thursday.

Verlander had the elbow operation on Wednesday, with the 2019 American League (AL) Cy Young Award winner and 2017 World Series champion not expected to return until the 2022 season.

The 37-year-old's recovery time is between 12 to 14 months and Verlander could make a comeback with a different team as he is eligible for free agency at the end of 2021.

Verlander announced in September that he would undergo the procedure to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.

The two-time AL Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star featured for Houston on Opening Day – claiming the 226th win of his career.

But the 2011 AL MVP was placed on the injured list in July and eventually shut down last month with a strained right forearm.

"I was hopeful that I would be able to return to competition in 2020," Verlander wrote via Instagram last month. "However, during my simulated game unfortunately the injury worsened.

"Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed, but I will not let this slow down my aspirations for my career. I will approach this rehab the only way I know, attack and don't look back.

"I'm confident that with a proper rehabilitation program and my unwavering commitment that this surgery will ultimately lengthen my career as opposed to shorten it.

"I can't thank my team-mates, coaches, the front office and my fans enough for the support they have given me so far in this process. I'm eager to get through this recovery and back on the field to continue to do what I love."

Verlander – who signed a two-year, $66million contract extension heading into the 2019 season – joined the Astros from the Detroit Tigers in 2017.

He made 34 starts last season, going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts in 223 innings as the Astros reached the World Series before falling to the Washington Nationals.

The Astros are preparing for an AL Division Series (ALDS) showdown with the Oakland Athletics.

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