CC Sabathia recorded his 3,000th career strikeout on Tuesday at Arizona, joining one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball history.
It was the 38-year-old left-hander’s fourth start of the season, and the 542nd of a potential Hall of Fame career that stretches all the way back to 2001. He ultimately finished his outing with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings, bringing his total to 3,002.
Here’s a look at some interesting facts about all of Sabathia's Ks:
• He's the 17th pitcher to join the 3,000 strikeout club and one of just three left-handers, along with Randy Johnson (4,875 strikeouts) and Steve Carlton (4,136 strikeouts).
• Sabathia is the fifth pitcher in that club to have played for the Yankees at any point, along with Johnson, Roger Clemens, Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry. But Sabathia joins Niekro as the only pitchers to record their 3,000th Ks in the pinstripes, with Niekro doing so back in 1984.
• Sabathia now has 1,609 strikeouts with the Yankees, compared with the 1,265 he notched with the Indians (plus 128 with the Brewers). He ranks fourth on New York’s all-time list (more than 400 behind leader Andy Pettitte), plus sixth on Cleveland’s.
• Sabathia is the active leader in strikeouts by quite a bit. Second is the Astros’ Justin Verlander, who is at 2,759 after picking up seven Ks on Monday against the Twins.
• Sabathia has cracked the 200-strikeout mark just three times in his career, piling up 209 in 2007, 251 in ‘08 and 230 in ‘11. Rather, his march to 3,000 has been more about staying power and durability. Sabathia is one of 10 pitchers to strike out at least 120 batters in 17 different seasons, and one of three lefties to do that, joining Carlton (19) and Johnson (18).
• Sabathia has been playing in the American League East since 2009, and yet, each of the past three major strikeout milestones he has reached -- 2,000, 2,500 and now 3,000 -- have come against clubs from out west.
A breakdown of Sabathia’s milestone Ks:
No. 1: Mike Kinkade, Orioles (April 8, 2001)
No. 1,000: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (May 21, 2007)
No. 1,500: Carl Crawford, Rays (July 28, 2009)
No. 2,000: Torii Hunter, Angels (Sept. 10, 2011)
No. 2,500: Johnny Giavotella, Angels (April 24, 2015)
No. 3,000: John Ryan Murphy, D-backs (April 30, 2019)
• Sabathia’s most frequent strikeout victim -- counting only the regular season -- is Carlos Pena, who went down against Sabathia 26 times between 2002-10 while going 7-for-47 (.149). The Orioles’ Chris Davis is atop the list for active hitters, with 24 strikeouts against Sabathia (26 including the postseason).
• In contrast, the one hitter Sabathia was never able to strike out was Pablo Ozuna, a utilityman who posted a .677 career OPS from 2000-08. The two faced each other 35 times when they both resided in the AL Central, and Ozuna never went down on strikes, while slashing .412/.429/.559.
• Sabathia has struck out 870 different batters in the regular season, with each of his first four victims Tuesday new additions to the list: David Peralta, Christian Walker, Murphy, and opposing pitcher Zack Greinke. A former Yankee, Murphy was a teammate of Sabathia’s in New York and caught 74 1/3 innings from the lefty over 15 games from 2013-15.
Coincidentally, Murphy was behind the plate when Mariano Rivera made his final appearance, on Sept. 26, 2013.
• Sabathia has struck out eight Hall of Fame hitters -- Jim Thome (15 times), Vladimir Guerrero (10 times), Ivan Rodriguez (seven times), Ken Griffey Jr. (six times), Frank Thomas (five times), Edgar Martinez (five times), Roberto Alomar (three times) and Chipper Jones (twice).
• Sabathia has racked up his most Ks against the Rays (293), followed by the White Sox and Royals (both 236). His fewest Ks have come against the Marlins (eight in two games), but the D-backs were second on that list entering Tuesday. Sabathia previously had just 11 Ks in two career starts against Arizona, but neither of those was at Chase Field.
• They haven’t worked together since 2008, but no other catcher is going to approach the recently retired Victor Martinez when it comes to being behind the plate for Sabathia strikeouts. The former Indians teammates collaborated for 700 Ks, more than double the total for CC’s next most prolific batterymate (Francisco Cervelli).
• Sabathia has 39 double-digit strikeout games in his career, and his single-game high is 14, a mark he set over seven innings for the Yankees on July 26, 2011, against the Mariners.
• In addition to his 3,000 regular-season strikeouts, Sabathia has 121 strikeouts in the postseason, making him one of 16 pitchers with 100-plus playoff Ks. That group includes five active pitchers -- Sabathia, Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.
Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.