If New York Mets starter Justin Verlander retires before the start of the 2023 MLB season, he will be a Hall of Famer. At this point in his career, the 40-year-old Verlander is still suiting up for two reasons: to win another ring and cross off a few more milestones from his long list of career accomplishments.
Verlander later managed to do the same during Wednesday's start against the Cincinnati Reds. Verlander threw 7 strong innings against Cincinnati, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits. He issued 2 walks, struck out 7, and earned the 2–1 win.
With that win, Verlander 21st pitcher in MLB history Credited with wins against all 30 teams. Prior to Verlander, Gerrit Cole was the last pitcher to accomplish that feat. He won in 2021 against his former club, the Houston Astros. That game Cole won at least one against all 30 MLB teams.
Being a member of this exclusive club does not guarantee that a player will make the Hall of Fame. Verlander is a lock and Cole is well on his way, but other players like Javier Vazquez and Woody Williams did not come close.
However, the list does indicate some positives about the pitcher. To win against all 30 MLB teams, you have to be pretty decent and you have to have longevity. For example, Vazquez pitched 14 seasons in the majors. His ERA was better than the league average in those 8 seasons.
Cole and Verlander make 2 of 4 active pitchers to defeat all 30 MLB teams. Kansas City Royals starter Zack Greinke did it in 2019. Greinke was with the Houston Astros at the time, and earned the win against the Royals to accomplish the feat. Max Scherzer is the only other active pitcher with a win against every MLB team. He managed it in 2016, when he defeated his former club, the Detroit Tigers.
There is an obvious reason why the list of players who have achieved this feat is littered with recent names. MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998. The first player to beat all 30 MLB teams was Al Leiter, who began his MLB career in 1987. Free agency was decades out of date by that point, but it's a necessary piece of the puzzle.
The list of pitchers who have won against all 30 MLB teams has a chance to skyrocket in the coming years. MLB introduced a balanced schedule in 2023, which enables teams to play more games outside their divisions.