Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander enjoyed quite the game in Tuesday's 4-1 win vs. the Seattle Mariners. The star right-hander threw 7 innings of 1-run ball while striking out 12. He also passed Hall of Famer John Smoltz and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer on MLB's all-time strikeout list.
Verlander became the active MLB strikeout leader upon passing Scherzer. The two veteran right-handers have gone back and forth for some time but Verlander has an opportunity to increase his lead given that Scherzer is currently injured. Meanwhile, the Astros' ace passed Atlanta Braves legend John Smoltz as well.
Justin Verlander shared an emotional reaction to passing Smoltz and Scherzer in the all-time record books.
“I don’t know if Scherzer counts in that because he’s still playing and I’m still playing, and we’re kind of ping-ponging each other, but Smoltzy is somebody who I idolized growing up. Pretty surreal moment to hear that name.
Smoltz was one of the best pitchers in baseball during the mid-late 1990's and 2000's. Verlander was certainly not the only pitcher who looked up to him.
“It’s nice when it’s brought to your attention while it’s happening,” Verlander added. “It’s not like you're counting them down or anything. You’re keeping your head down and keep doing the work and trying to be the best pitcher you can for as long as you can.”
Max Scherzer will surely take notice of this and aim to surpass his former Detroit Tigers teammate Justin Verlander. The duo are still amongst the best pitchers in baseball despite both being in their late 30's.
As things stand right now, Verlander is 17th all-time in strikeouts.