It’s been well established that Max Scherzer can throw strikes which inevitably leads to accumulating a lot of strikeouts.
Sunday, as the Washington Nationals took on the Texas Rangers, Scherzer became the third-fastest pitcher in innings pitched, number of games, and in baseball history to record his 2,000th strikeout.
While there are now a total of just 80 pitchers who have gotten to 2,000 K’s in their careers, what makes this so striking is that he did it a mere nine days after the guy ahead of him on this list — at least in games.
Clayton Kershaw surpassed Pedro Martinez as the second-fastest pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeout club during a June 2 game — his 277th — when he struck out the Milwaukee Brewers’ Jonathan Villar on three pitches.
At the time Kershaw, who is currently considered by many to be the world’s greatest pitcher, sat in third place when it came to reaching the milestone in innings pitched with 1,836.
He trailed just Martinez, who leads all pitchers to 2,000 K’s in least innings pitched, and Randy Johnson who reached 2,000 strikeouts in the least number of games (and is second to Martinez in number of innings pitched).
While Kershaw is still second in number of games, he was surpassed by Scherzer who accomplished the feat in fewer innings. Scherzer is now the third-fastest pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeouts in both innings pitched and number of games.
It’s been established throughout his entire career that Max Scherzer is an amazing pitcher. However, after two decent years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and during his first two years with the Detroit Tigers, he was overshadowed by teammate Justin Verlander, who is one of very few pitchers to win the league’s Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same season.
Still, when you look at Scherzer’s strikeout numbers in each of his 10 MLB seasons, he averaged lower than nine strikeouts per nine innings just twice with his average number of K’s per nine innings between 2012 and today being 10.8.
Now Scherzer has won two Cy Young Awards, one in the American League with the Tigers in 2013, and he is currently the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner for the Nationals.
He’s also accomplished what only two other pitchers had ever done before him. In 2016, Scherzer struck out 20 batters in just nine innings.
Roger Clemens was the first to accomplish the miraculous feat, which he did twice with 10 years in between the two games.
His first 20 strikeout game was with the Boston Red Sox as they defeated the Seattle Mariners in 1986. His second 20 strikeout game came 10 seasons later while he was also with the Red Sox who defeated the Tigers in September of 1996.
The next 20 strikeout game was just two years later as Kerry Wood led the Chicago Cubs to victory over the Houston Astros and their lineup of “Killer B’s” that included Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Derek Bell on May 6, 1998.
To be fair, Johnson should also be recognized for having thrown 20 strikeouts in just nine innings, even though the records books say otherwise.
Johnson was relieved after completing the ninth inning having struck out 20 batters, but because the game was tied 3-3 at the time of his departure, he is considered by the record books to have gotten his 20 strikeouts in an 11-inning Diamondbacks victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Given that Scherzer has averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched over his 10-year career, has struck out 20 batters in a single game, has made five all-star game appearances, and has two Cy Young Awards, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the 32-year-old right-hander is now third all-time to make it into the 2,000 strikeout club in both innings pitched and games played.
However, it was a bit of a surprise coming only nine days after Clayton Kershaw made his way into the club, setting records of his own along the way.
With Kershaw, everyone saw it coming, and while everyone knows that Scherzer is among the league’s elite talents, he still didn’t have quite the fanfare that Kershaw had gotten leading up to his 2,000 strikeout.
[Featured Image by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images]