DETROIT -- The wait is over. Justin Verlander will make his first start of the 2015 season for the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Verlander will face the Cleveland Indians in the second of a three-game series against the Tribe and is not on a pitch count limit. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Ryan will be available out of the bullpen with Verlander's pending return.
Verlander has been sidelined by right triceps strain since March 29. After being shut down for experiencing lingering soreness a couple weeks into his stint on the disabled list following a sim game in Pittsburgh, Verlander's return to the Tigers had been slow-moving. But the Tigers confirmed there was no long-term injury to his arm, saying it was nothing more than a strain that Verlander would have to recover from based on how his body responded.
After two rehab starts for the Toledo Mud Hens, Verlander has experienced no setbacks. The right-handed starter has dealt with injuries the last two seasons, but this was the first time in his career that Verlander had been placed on the disabled list.
<!-- ######## START MUSTREADS SNIPPET ######## --><link rel="stylesheet" href="http://cdn3.sbnation.com/assets/3603867/mustreads-compact-only.css"><div class="must-reads-compact-only-container"><h4><span class="must-reads-star"><img src="http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3608771/star.png" /></span> Tigers' Verlander sharp in 2nd start for Toledo <span class="must-reads-star"><img src="http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3608771/star.png" /></span></h4><div class="must-reads-compact-link-container"><a href="http://www.blessyouboys.com/2015/6/6/8742011/detroit-tigers-justin-verlander-rehab-start-toledo-mud-hens">Tigers' Justin Verlander sharp in 2nd rehab start for Mud Hens<span class="must-reads-compact-byline"></span></a></div></div><!-- ######## END MUSTREADS SNIPPET ######## -->
Concerns with Verlander's loss of velocity, as well as the command of his pitches, have led to questions about whether his best days were behind him. Going into his season debut for Detroit on Saturday, those questions will again come to the forefront, with Verlander completely healthy for the first time in a while.
If Verlander can indeed return to his form prior to his injuries, it will give the Tigers a significant boost in its starting rotation. While Verlander isn't on a pitch count, especially since he had 93 pitches in his second Triple-A start, the team will use discretion considering it will be Verlander's first MLB start of the season.
Regardless of whether his high-90s pitches are a thing of the past, a healthy Verlander back on the mound is badly needed, especially with left-handed spot starter Kyle Lobstein remaining on hold. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said prior to Tuesday's game that Lobstein had been cleared to throw over the past weekend, but continued to experience soreness and has been shut down until further notice.
David Price will make Friday's start for Detroit, while Alfredo Simon will start Sunday's series finale against the Indians. In other news, Alex Avila experienced soreness in his knee while hitting at Chicago and underwent an MRI, but the Tigers say the concern level is low. He is, however, also shut down until the team knows more, as a precaution. Also, Bruce Rondon will throw one more bullpen session in Detroit before the team makes a further determination.