Kershaw and 2,000 Strikeouts

On Friday night, Clayton Kershaw continued to make history. Recently I wrote about Kershaw’s historical WHIP and what it really means. This time Kershaw was working on his strikeouts, striking out 14 batters in only 7 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, putting him over 2,000 for his career.

Seeing as how much pitching has changed in even just the last fifteen years, 2,000 strikeouts is a bigger deal now that it’s ever been.

Since the start of the 2000 season, there are now only 14 pitchers in that time that have at least 2,000 strikeouts. There are another two pitchers that should be getting to 2,000 with ease this season: Max Scherzer (1,981), and Jon Lester (1,921). After these two, there is quite the gap till the next active pitcher with Ervin Santana down at 1,794 strikeouts.

The leader in strikeouts since 2000 is CC Sabathia at 2,779 strikeouts. Ater him there is a sizeable gap down to Justin Verlander with 2,260 strikeouts. At 36 years old and more than 200 strikeouts away, Sabathia may not make it to 3,000. This just underscores what an achievement even 2,000 is at this point with starting pitchers pitching less and less.

Jon Weisman tweeted early last evening that if Kershaw gets the 4 strikeouts he needed last night, he would be the youngest NL pitcher ever get to 2,000, breaking Sandy Koufax’s record:

Going back to the 14 pitchers since 2000 with at least 2,000 strikeouts mentioned above, the only one on that list with less than 2,000 innings pitched is Randy Johnson at 1885.1 in that time frame with 2182 strikeouts. The next lowest is Cole Hamels at 2247 innings pitched with 2137 strikeouts. With only 1843 innings pitched, Kershaw has outpaced everyone on the list but Johnson.

Also as mentioned above, Max Scherzer is right on Kershaw’s tail at the moment, only 29 strikeouts away. In his career he has even fewer innings pitched with 1,773.2. Although he is not younger than Kershaw, he will certainly reach 2,000 in about 50 or so fewer innings pitched overall. The race to 3,000 will be a fun one to watch between the two!

Now that Kershaw has 2,000 strikeouts, it’s hard not to get excited thinking about 3,000.