- - Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This has been an eventful few months for Justin Verlander, an All-Star pitcher for the Houston Astros.

He was traded from Detroit to Houston last July and helped the Astros win their first World Series in October. A few days later he was married to model Kate Upton in Italy, and recently she announced the couple is expecting their first child.

Verlander is injured and won’t pitch Tuesday but still made the trip to the nation’s capital to be part of All-Star week. It is the seventh time he has been selected – but the first time since 2013.

“I have an appreciation of what it takes to be here. Not that I take it for granted,” he said Monday. “I fought my way back.”

Verlander could have skipped the events but said he preferred being part of All-Star events over a few days of vacation.

“It’s the best players on the planet. That is what the game should be,” he said. “I love watching guys play baseball.”

Verlander grew up closer to Nationals Park than any big leaguer on the roster of the American League.

The veteran pitcher is from Manakin-Sabot, a tiny community a few miles northwest of Richmond in Goochland County, Virginia.

“I grew up one-hour-and-a-half south of here,” he said, sitting at Nationals Park on Monday.

Verlander grew up as a fan of the Atlanta Braves since their games were on cable television. In addition, the Braves top minor league affiliate used to be in Richmond before moving to suburban Atlanta in 2009.

Another All-Star pitcher from Virginia, with the National League, is reliever Jeremy Jeffress of the Milwaukee Brewers. He is from South Boston, Virginia, about four hours southwest of D.C. Josh Hader, a lefty reliever with the Brewers also on the NL squad, is from Millersville, Maryland, and was drafted out of Old Mill High by the Orioles.

Verlander went to college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round in 2004. He made his big league debut with the Tigers on July 4, 2005, against Cleveland.

He went 5-0 with a 1.06 in five starts for the Astros last year to help them reach the playoffs. The right-hander then starred in the postseason as he beat the Red Sox and Yankees twice each and lost his only decision in the World Series to the Dodgers.

The right-hander is 9-5 with an ERA of 2.29 in 21 starts this year for Houston. In his career he is 197-119.

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