Scherzer's 14 K's against Pirates on Thursday continued torrid punchout rate
By Roger Schlueter
In the 1946 season, reigning American League MVP Award winner Hal Newhouser struck out 23.4 percent of all batters he faced. At the time, the percentage represented not only the highest mark for any qualifying Tigers pitcher in history, but also the second highest for any AL pitcher since the league got rolling in 1901. For the Tigers franchise, that mark would go unmatched until 2009, when Justin Verlander fanned 27.4 percent of all batters he went up against.
That club reign has proved much more volatile since then, as the game itself has evolved. And drafting along with this reshaping, Max Scherzer has become the undisputed champion for the team in Detroit.
Scherzer now owns the top two marks, with his 29.4 percent in 2012 earning the No. 1 spot. Just last year, Scherzer posted the second-highest percentage, and this season he's threatening to pretty much match that effort from '13. This means we're about six weeks away from Scherzer potentially owning the three highest strikeout percentages in Tigers history.
Scherzer fans 14 Bucs
In the Tigers' 5-2 win over the Pirates on Thursday, Scherzer fanned a season-high 14 batters in eight scoreless innings.
It marked the third time Scherzer had fanned at least 14, with all three performances coming with Detroit. Those three are the second most for any Tigers hurler since 1914, with Mickey Lolich having eight.
In all three of Scherzer's efforts consisting of at least 14 strikeouts, the right-hander has gone no deeper than eight innings. He is one of 12 pitchers since 1914 to have at least three such outings. Randy Johnson dominates this list, with his 25 even looming over the combined totals of the next four entrants: Pedro Martinez (eight), Roger Clemens (six), Curt Schilling (five) and Yu Darvish (four). The others with exactly three: Steve Carlton, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mike Mussina, Nolan Ryan and Johan Santana.
Scherzer has fanned 28.7 percent of the batters he has faced this season. In 2012, his percentage was 29.4, and last year, it was 28.7 percent. There have been two right-handers in baseball history who have posted three consecutive seasons with a percentage of at least 28.0 while qualifying for the ERA title: Ryan (1989-91) and Schilling (2001-03).
Gordon races into Dodgers' record book
In the Dodgers' 6-4 victory over the Braves, Los Angeles leadoff hitter Dee Gordon provided a significant spark, contributing four runs scored, three hits, a walk and two steals.
With the line, Gordon became the only Dodgers leadoff hitter since 1914 to have a game with at least four runs, three hits and two steals. In fact, only one other Dodgers player since 1914 who had a game with these numbers: third-place hitter Casey Stengel on Sept. 21, 1914.
Gordon's two stolen bases raised his tally for the season to a Major League-leading 54. The total is the most for a Dodgers second baseman since Steve Sax swiped 56 in 1983.
Fiers burns Cubs
Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers fanned 14 Cubs in six scoreless innings and picked up the win as Milwaukee defeated Chicago, 6-2. Fiers entered this game with three career double-digit strikeout games -- all three of them cresting at 10 K's.
Getting K's quickly
Eight starting pitchers since 1914 have had at least 14 K's in an outing lasting no more than six innings.
The 14 K's tied Fiers with Moose Haas (April 12, 1978) and Yovani Gallardo (July 15, 2012) for the second-most strikeouts for a Brewers hurler. Ben Sheets fanned 18 on May 16, 2004.
Fiers is one of eight starting pitchers since 1914 to have at least 14 K's in an outing lasting no more than six innings. Among the eight, he joined Scherzer (May 30, 2010) as the second to allow no runs.
Royals have ruled since All-Star break
The first-place Royals defeated the fellow division leaders Athletics, 7-3. With the victory, Kansas City finished off the four-game set against Oakland having won three of four. The Royals have also won 18 of their past 22.
During this stretch of 22 games, Kansas City is averaging 4.50 runs per game. Before this stretch, it was at 3.97 for the year. The Royals are also allowing 3.09 runs per game over their past 22, compared to 4.03 before.
With their 18-8 mark since the All-Star break, the Royals own the best second-half record in the Majors. Last year, they owned the third-best second-half record in the big leagues. This year, they own the fourth-lowest team ERA in MLB since the break. Last season, they owned the second-lowest team ERA in the Majors in the second half.
Stras' dominance typical for Nats
In the Nationals' 4-1 victory over the Mets, Stephen Strasburg allowed one unearned run and three hits while fanning eight.
Strasburg is part of a pitching staff that owns a 3.08 ERA -- the third lowest in the Majors behind the Mariners and Padres. Nats starters own a 3.20 ERA, which ranks second lowest in the big leagues behind the Dodgers' 3.15.
No Expos/Nationals ballclub has ever finished a season with an ERA as low as 3.08, with the existing franchise low mark of 3.10 courtesy of the 1988 Expos. That '88 team also claimed the lowest starters' ERA for the franchise, with a 3.05 mark. No other season has seen the starters post an ERA as low as 3.20.
Strasburg is one 355 pitchers with at least 100 career starts through his age-25 season. Among this collection, his 10.51 K's per nine stands as the highest mark, ahead of Kerry Wood's 10.40 and Mark Prior's 10.37. Pedro Martinez (9.57) and Sam McDowell (9.54) round out the top five.
Pedroia has double the fun at Fenway Dustin Pedroia (3-for-5) had one of four Red Sox doubles on the night in Boston's 9-4 win over the Astros at Fenway Park.
Pedroia now has 318 career doubles -- a total that ties him with Carl Yastrzemski and Brian Roberts for the 21st most for a player through his first nine years. Like Yaz, Pedroia has taken advantage of his home ballpark when it comes to the two-base hit. Pedroia is one of 47 players since 1914 to have at least 150 doubles at home through his first nine seasons.
In terms of each player's total number of doubles coming from two-base hits at home, Pedroia owns the fourth-highest percentage in MLB history and is right in the middle of a number of players who were doing their home work at Fenway. Wade Boggs owns the highest percentage (67.0), while, as mentioned, Pedroia (61.9) is fourth. Bobby Doerr (63.9) is second, Fred Lynn is fifth (at 61.2; Lynn had moved on from Boston by the end his first nine years), Yastrzemski is tied for sixth (60.1), Ted Williams is ninth (59.2) and Dom DiMaggio is 10th (59.0).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.