Red Sox left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez tops 200 strikeouts

Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after pitch. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox celebrates after pitch. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Eduardo Rodriguez joined an exclusive list of Boston Red Sox left-handed pitchers who have recorded 200+ strikeouts in a season.

We’ve already seen Eduardo Rodriguez set several career-highs during his breakout season but the latest achievement puts him in rare company for a left-handed pitcher in the storied history of the Boston Red Sox.

Rodriguez was shelled for seven runs by the Texas Rangers in his worst outing of the season on Tuesday but he managed to stick around for the five innings necessary to “earn” his 19th win of the season. He also struck out six batters over those five frames, topping 200 for the season.

There have only been 30 instances where a Red Sox pitcher has struck out at least 200 batters in a single season. His current total of 205 this season places Rodriguez 27th in franchise history.

Roger Clemens has the most 200+ strikeout seasons in a Red Sox uniform with eight. Pedro Martinez is on that list six times and holds the franchise single-season record with 313 strikeouts in 1999. That’s nearly half of the cases where a Red Sox pitcher has tallied 200+ strikeouts split between two pitchers!

Rodriguez is only the fourth left-handed Red Sox pitcher to join the 200-strikeout club. Chris Sale has done it in each of his three seasons in Boston, despite spending significant time on the injured list over the last two years. In his one healthy season with the Red Sox, Sale’s league-leading 308 strikeouts were the second-most in franchise history.

Fellow teammate David Price has only stayed healthy enough to make more than 30 starts once in his four years in Boston but he struck out 227 during that 2016 campaign. Jon Lester, who was traded away by the Red Sox the year before Rodriguez made his major league debut, had a pair of 225-strikeout seasons (2009, 2010) in Boston.

The Red Sox don’t have a long history of elite left-handed pitching. Three of their four southpaws in the 200+ strikeout club are still with the organization and the other is only a handful of years removed.

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Reaching 200 strikeouts isn’t as rare of an accomplishment as it once was. Not when the launch angle movement has everyone swinging for the fences with little concern for the toll it takes on their strikeout percentage. 22 major league pitchers have topped 200 K’s this season and a few more could join that list before the season ends this week.

Gerrit Cole‘s MLB-leading 316 strikeouts are already more than any Red Sox pitcher has ever recorded in a single season and he might get one more start (unless the Houston Astros rest him in a meaningless game before they begin their postseason journey).

This is still a milestone for Rodriguez to be proud of. The 26-year old has struggled with durability and efficiency throughout his career. He made it to 200 strikeouts and is knocking on the door of 200 innings for the first time because he stayed healthy and has pitched deeper into games.

Rodriguez will make one more start on the final day of the regular season. He’ll almost certainly crack the 200 inning threshold while chasing his 20th win of the season. That would mark the 49th time a Red Sox pitcher has won 20+ games and Rodriguez would be the first since Rick Porcello in 2016.

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It also gives Rodriguez a chance to climb higher on the Red Sox single-season strikeout list. He’s nowhere near Pedro’s franchise record or even Sale’s record for a lefty, but he’s within range to make a run at cracking the top-20 on the list.