Astros starter Justin Verlander became the 33rd pitcher to join the 2,500-strikeout club on Wednesday evening against the Angels, fanning Shohei Ohtani to lead off the ninth inning. It was his seventh and final strikeout of the evening. Verlander then polished off a shutout, giving up just five hits and a walk on 118 pitches.
CC Sabathia leads all active pitchers with 2,874 strikeouts. Verlander is next, followed by Bartolo Colon with 2,483, who should become the 34rd member of the club soon. Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, James Shields, and Jon Lester all also have over 2,000 career strikeouts.
Verlander, 35, has been among baseball’s best pitchers this season. After Wednesday’s start, he leads the majors with a 1.05 ERA along with an 84/14 K/BB ratio in 68 2/3 innings. His current 32.8 percent strikeout rate would be a career-high and his 5.5 percent walk rate would be a career-low. So he’s having a pretty good season.
The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.
However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”
Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.
Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.
Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.
No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.