CC Sabathia becomes 17th pitcher to join MLB's 3,000-strikeout club

CC Sabathia has reached a major milestone in his potential Hall of Fame worthy career.

The New York Yankees left-hander became just the 17th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record 3,000 career strikeouts during Tuesday’s outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He achieved the feat by striking out the side in the second inning.

John Ryan Murphy, who caught many times for Sabathia during his time with the Yankees, went from former battery mate to a trivia answer as victim No. 3,000.

Here’s a complete list of Sabathia strikeout victims over the years.

Sabathia was starting his fourth game after beginning the season injured and also serving a five-game suspension. He pitched a season-best 5 1/3 innings while tying his season-high with five strikeouts against Arizona. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks. He took a tough-luck loss as the Yankees dropped the game, 3-1.

A Hall of Fame list

Of the 3,000-strikeout club’s previous 16 members, 14 are in the Hall of Fame. The only two who aren't — Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling — remain on the ballot but have so far been shut out due to issues beyond their pitching excellence.

In other words, it’s an achievement that should, in theory, cement a Hall of Fame legacy. Whether that applies to Sabathia is something that will be debated.

You can find the full 3,000-strikeout club here.

Is it more prestigious than 300 wins?

It could be argued that reaching 3,000 strikeouts is now the most prestigious achievement for a pitcher. The only other milestone in the discussion is the 300-win club, which boasts 24 members.

The evolution of baseball, which has been aided by the development of advanced statistics and metrics, has given us a clearer perspective of the actual value of pitcher wins. That has taken a significant amount of air out of the 300-win bubble.

That’s important to Sabathia’s case, since 300 wins is a plateau he won't reach. With three more wins though, he will become the 14th pitcher to reach both 250 wins and notch 3,000 strikeouts.

What it means to CC Sabathia

Sabathia, who turns 39 in July, has overcome a lot over the last year just to reach this point. He battled health issues all last season and required an angioplasty and right knee surgery during the offseason. When healthy in 2018, he was effective. In 29 starts, Sabathia posted a 3.65 ERA over 153 innings.

Sabathia logged his first 1,265 career strikeouts with the Cleveland Indians after debuting on April 8, 2001. He struck out another 128 during a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. He’s been with the Yankees ever since.

He returned for his 11th and final season in New York with one specific goal in mind. That being to win his second World Series in Yankees’ pinstripes. But in the back of his mind too was reaching 3,000 strikeouts.

Now that the secondary goal has been reached, he'll be completely focused on helping to anchor a rotation that's still missing ace Luis Severino.

From The New York Times:

“I think it’d be pretty cool,” Sabathia said last week in Arizona. “It would definitely be a relief so I can just go out and worry about the rest of the season and play and try to win a championship, because that’s all I’m really concerned about. But with it being so close, it’s hard not for it to be right there in your head.”

Making it even more special, Sabathia was able to share and celebrate Tuesday’s special milestone with his family.

Who’s next?

That distinction should belong to Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander. He’s sitting on 2,752 strikeouts, which would him put on track to reach the milestone early next season. Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer passed 2,500 strikeouts last week, so he won’t be far behind. Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke are also closing in on 2,500.

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