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Justin Verlander strikes out Shohei Ohtani for 2,500th career strikeout

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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.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.