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Gerrit Cole fans Jorge Mateo for 2,000th career strikeout

The Yankees’ ace became the third-fastest pitcher in history to reach that notable milestone.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images

As a fan of baseball history, I always appreciate when round numbers come along to give us an easy opportunity to celebrate players for their accomplishments. The near-everyday grind means that we inevitably sometimes take getting the chance to watch these stars for granted. Just for one example, I’m not someone who’s particularly attached to wins at this point, but it was terrific to see baseball rally to salute future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw on April 18th, when he recorded his 200th career victory.

Another pitcher who seems like a good bet to merit Cooperstown consideration one day is Gerrit Cole. The former No. 1 overall pick stitched together a tremendous 11-year career to date with a quintet of All-Star nods and top-five Cy Young Award finishes, and two near-misses. Since crossing over to the American League in 2018 and further refining his game, no one has even come close to his strikeout total of 1,264 in 150 starts, and he set a Yankees franchise record in 2022 with a league-leading 257 K’s.

On the topic of punchouts, Cole entered his Tuesday night start at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles with a chance to become the third-fastest pitcher to reach the 2,000-strikeout plateau. Terrin Vavra went down swinging with one out in the second for No. 1,999, and former Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo became Cole’s 2,000th career strikeout victim when he did the same on a 96.6-mph heater to end the inning.

Cole also became the 87th pitcher in MLB history to record 2,000 K’s and the seventh to do so in pinstripes. He’s seventh on the leaderboard as well among all pitchers currently on active MLB rosters.

With Cole under contract through 2028 and apparently still in his prime, the 32-year-old ace is sure to at least make a run at the elusive 3,000-strikeout club. CC Sabathia was the most recent Yankees pitcher to earn entry to this prestigious group, back on April 30, 2019. Sabathia was the 17th man to do so and has since been joined by two other aces who now pitch across town: Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

Congratulations to Gerrit Cole! As Jeff discussed last month, it’s a privilege to watch No. 45’s mastery of the mound and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store.