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Houston Astros Ace One Step Closer to Hall of Fame

Justin Verlander’s case for being a future Hall of Famer just got a little stronger as he entered the top 10 on the MLB all-time strikeout list. The Astros ace went into Friday’s contest at 11th on the all-time strikeouts list, three behind the great Greg Maddux

He surpassed Maddux with a strikeout of former Astro Abraham Toro to end the second inning. It was one of those full-circle baseball moments for the pair of former teammates. In 2019, Toro hit a tie-breaking two-run homer then fielded the final out to complete Verlander’s third career no-hitter.

Verlander struck out a season-high nine batters across six innings giving up two runs (one earned) in Friday’s 6-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. The win also marked Verlander’s 260th career win, tying him for 41st on the all-time wins list alongside Ted Lyons.

“I feel like I should be more excited, but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said after the game. “I don’t know if, as a 21-or-22-year-old kid in professional baseball, if I thought I would be in the top 10 of anything. This sport’s been around for so long. So yeah, hard to put into words.”

He passed former teammate Max Scherzer (3,367) for 12th all-time in his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers. The two were teammates twice, first with the Detroit Tigers (2010-2014), then with the New York Mets for part of last season. Verlander increased his career total to 3,377 by striking out nine A’s over six innings of work on Friday. All but one (Roger Clemens) of the nine pitchers with more career strikeouts than Verlander are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Justin Verlander Cementing His Status as a Future Hall of Famer

Of the 10 pitchers who sat above him before Friday, each of them pitched at least 20 seasons in the majors. Justin Verlander, now in his 19th season, has achieved so much throughout his Hall of Fame-worthy career. He underwent Tommy John surgery four years ago with no guarantee that the now 41-year-old would be as good as he was before. 

He returned post-Tommy John surgery in 2022, winning his third Cy Young Award and his second World Series with the Astros. Verlander has since pitched to a 34-14 record with a 2.58 ERA and 364 strikeouts in 62 appearances between the Astros and the Mets.

The Astros ace got a late start to the 2024 season after shoulder inflammation delayed his off-season throwing program. If he can stay healthy, Justin Verlander could challenge Walter Johnson (3,509) for ninth all-time in strikeouts and Gus Weyhing (264) for 39th all-time in wins.


Photo Credit: © D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports


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