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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.