Houston Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander achieves what only 18 pitchers have done before him. And what a feat it has been.
Angels lead the Astros 2-0. Kole Calhoun steps into the box. Confident he will nail this ball. Verlander deals, it’s high, but Calhoun thinks homer. Swing and a miss. He throws the next pitch, up in the zone. Strike two. The moment is palpable. The moment is nervy. The moment is exactly what Verlander wants.
Verlander kicks and deals, curveball down and in, his bread and butter. Strike three. He’s done it.
BUT WAIT. THE BALL GETS AWAY.
Baseball is a funny thing you see. In a moment where a pitcher achieves history, the ball can make one bad bounce off a catchers foot, and the batter is now down in the history books as well. Calhoun becomes the first player to reach base while striking out, as the opposing pitcher reached the 3,000 strikeout mark.
Verlander also reached another milestone with this feat. He is the first pitcher ever, to throw a no-hitter in the same season as reaching the 3,000 strikeout milestone.
Then, as fate would have it, the home run ball bites Verlander again. The only downfall to his otherwise, slam-dunk of a Cy Young Award season. The Angles go up 3-0.
As the rain comes and goes, so do Verlander’s woes. He reached yet another milestone, against a familiar face. Calhoun fell victim to him yet again, lending to his first time 300 strikeout season. Encompassing, what is a career season for the 36-year-old right-hander.
Fun fact, Justin Verlander is only the second pitcher, ever, to strike out the same batter to achieve his 3,000th career strikeout and his 300th strikeout of the season, in the same game. The other pitcher? Randy Johnson in 2000, striking out Mike Lowell twice in a losing effort against the Marlins.
And since I love weird bits of trivia, Randy Johnson and Justin Verlander both achieved this feat at the age of 36. Johnson would go on to pitch nine more years. Justin seems to be on the same path.
Rounding back with the win tonight, he finishes the season with 21 wins, second-best of his career. 300 strikeouts, which as previously mentioned, is the first time ever in his career. He leads the league in WHIP, which is the lowest WHIP total of his career. Verlander has helped this Astros team set a franchise record, 106 wins on the season and an MLB best record in 2019.
With all of that combined, it stands to debate, does Justin Verlander go into the Hall of Fame with an Astros hat? Multiple players before him have done it, most notably Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. With more years in an Astros jersey, one could make a hefty case on just that. However, as it stands now, Justin Verlander is a shoo-in to have his bust in Cooperstown.