Houston Astros

Justin Verlander climbs up career strikeout list by passing Cy Young

Justin Verlander reached a milestone on Saturday night, passing all-time wins leader Cy Young in career strikeouts

Cy Young’s career wins record may be unassailable, but on Saturday night another future Hall of Famer moved past him on the all-time strikeouts list.

Houston Astros’ right-hander Justin Verlander recorded his 2,804th career strikeout in a win against the Oakland Athletics, passing Young for 21st on the all-time rankings. Verlander came into the game two behind Young at 2,801 and tied him by striking out Robbie Grossman in the bottom of the fifth. Two batters later he surpassed the baseball legend by getting Jurickson Profar out swinging on an 88 mph slider. Verlander finished the game with 2,809 career strikeouts.

Afterward, the former winner of the award named in Young’s honor admitted passing him is something he’s proud of.

“Sometimes when you’re playing this game it’s got the unique ability to really kind of put things in perspective for you,” Verlander said. “As much as you try just to keep your head down and keep pitching and not pay attention to whatever’s going on, anytime Cy Young pops up on your radar and you’re associated with him it’s pretty special.”

There is some discrepancy over how many strikeouts Young got in his career. The Elias Sports Bureau has him with 2,806, and that’s the mark that was celebrated during the game. Baseball Reference, Fangraphs and MLB.com, however, all give him 2,803.

Either way, Verlander got to both marks much more quickly than did Young. It took Young 906 games and 7,356 innings to get his 2,803 strikeouts. Verlander, in contrast, reached that number in just 2,843 innings. Young never had more than 210 in a season during his 22-year career, a figure Verlander has reached eight times, including a career-high 290 in 2018.

Next up on the all-time list is 2019 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Mussina with 2,813. CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees is the active leader with 3,020. Verlander, though, is still less than halfway to Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714.

Verlander went eight innings against Oakland giving up four hits and an earned run while striking out eight in a 5-1 Astros win. The 36-year-old is now 9-2 on the season with a 2.27 ERA and is striking out 10.6 batters per nine innings, the third-highest mark of his career.

Verlander now has more strikeouts, but there’s one thing he’ll never match Young in: he’s still 298 wins away from Young’s 511.

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