Justin Verlander sets new career-high with 15 strikeouts

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Astros starter Justin Verlander set a new career-high on Wednesday, striking out 15 Brewers across seven innings. Surprisingly, Verlander had never struck out 15 batters in a game before. He struck out 14 on four different occasions, including twice last year.

The only other pitchers to have struck out at least 15 in a game this season are Chris Sale (17), Shane Bieber (15), and Max Scherzer (15).

Verlander served up three runs, all on solo homers (to Ryan Braun, Yasmani Grandal, and Eric Thames), accounting for three of the four hits he allowed. He walked none across his seven frames before giving way to the bullpen. The game went into extra innings tied at 3-3.

After Wednesday’s effort, Verlander holds a 2.50 ERA with 125 strikeouts and 19 walks in 100 2/3 innings on the season. With a month remaining, he is making a strong case to start the All-Star Game for the American League. However, Jake Odorizzi (1.92), Charlie Morton (2.10), and Lucas Giolito (2.28) have better ERAs at the moment.

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.