Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale became only the third pitcher ever to reach 250 strikeouts in 25 or fewer starts in a season.
At the rate Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale is piling up strikeouts, he may set a new career-high by Labor Day.
Sale struck out nine New York Yankees hitters during Saturday night’s loss at Fenway Park, bringing his season total to 250 strikeouts. He has now struck out at least nine batters in 21 of his 25 starts this season.
If you’re thinking that averaging 10 strikeouts per game this deep into the season is an anomaly, you’re not wrong. It’s extremely rare. Sale joins Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in major league history to strikeout 250+ batters in 25 or fewer games. The Big Unit holds the record, reaching that mark in only 23 games in 2001. Johnson reached 250+ K’s in 25 or fewer starts four times in his career, while Pedro and Sale have each done it once.
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Sale should coast by the career-high 274 strikeouts he recorded in 2015 with the Chicago White Sox. Boston’s rotation is lined up to allow seven more starts for Sale, unless their place in the standings affords them the opportunity to give him some extra rest. If he makes it to 32 starts at his current rate, Sale would end up with 320 strikeouts. Even if he misses a start along the way, he may still have a shot at topping Pedro’s franchise record of 313 strikeouts in a season.
Two of the strikeouts Sale recorded last night were against Aaron Judge. The rookie outfielder set a new single-season record with 36 consecutive games with a strikeout.
The Red Sox were on the positive side of history, but unfortunately not on the scoreboard. Sale has now faced the Yankees four times this season, going 0-2 with a pair of no-decisions. Boston has won only one of those starts, an extra-innings affair in the Bronx on August 13.
Not the results you want from your ace against your fiercest rival, although there’s no reason to be concerned that the Yankees have his number. They don’t. His career record against them may stand at a mere 4-3, but he owns a 1.51 ERA and 11.3 K/9 against the Yankees. That ERA is the lowest he’s produced against any team that he’s thrown at least 80 innings against in his career. Sale does not fear the Bronx Bombers.
Sale leads the American League with 175 1/3 innings, 14 wins, 2.62 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 250 strikeouts and a 7.81 K/BB ratio. He also leads AL pitchers with a 5.6 WAR. Only two position players in the league have a higher WAR – and no, Judge isn’t one of them. Sounds like MVP credentials to me.