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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cole reaches 300-strikeout milestone

HOUSTON—An amazing season by right-hander Gerrit Cole has been punctuated by something no other Astros pitcher has done in more than 30 years.

By striking out Shin-Soo Choo in the sixth inning Wednesday night against the Rangers, Cole became the first pitcher in the Major Leagues this season, and the first Astros pitcher since Mike Scott in 1986, to strike out 300 batters in a season. Scott, who struck out 306 in his National League Cy Young season, and J.R. Richard (1978-79) are the only Astros pitchers to reach 300 in a season.

Cole is the 18th pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to strike out 300 in a season, and there have been 37 individual 300-K seasons in that span. Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan each totaled six 300-strikeout seasons during their Hall of Fame careers, which is tied for the most.

A sign of how much pitcher use has changed- only the fourth such time (by the fourth different pitcher) that this milestone has been reached since 2003, in spite of the explosion of strikeouts since then.

 

QLE Posted: September 19, 2019 at 12:30 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gerrit cole, strikeouts

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   1. cookiedabookie Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5880774)
Right now, he joins Randy Johnson's 2001 season as the only seasons with 100+ strikeouts more than innings pitched. 1999 Pedro came a third of an inning short. It would be cool to see him maintain that 100+ differential.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5880780)
Verlander is 17 away, but they probably won't give him enough innings to reach 300.
   3. DCA Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5880783)
Verlander's also 11 away from 3000. Would be nice if he hit both milestones in the same game. He'll get 2 more starts probably. K's 10 in 6 innings the next one, then 7 in 5 innings in his final turn.
   4. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5880784)
So with his health and heat and established history of strikeouts relative to the league average what does a Nolan Ryan do in today's game? Sure he is pitching fewer innings so is he able to strike out even more batters per nine? Is he the starter version of Hader striking out 16 per nine?? Just asking.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5880789)
You have to assume that he'd be setting K/9 records.

However, I think that today's usage patterns would preclude us from even knowing what exceptional endurance he had. (Which is another way of saying that it's possible Justin Verlander is capable of throwing 320 innings, but sadly we'll never know.)

Ryan - if he didn't get stuck in the bullpen to begin with - would probably get stuck throwing 5-6 innings per night. He was rarely a really elite pitcher (as far as effectiveness goes), and assuming that stayed the same, he's probably a guy that modern teams would hide from hitters the third time around the lineup. Robbie Ray is the highest BB+K starter of the moment, he averages 5.4 IP per GS, and Ryan would hit his pitch count limits even faster than Ray does, and so maybe pitcher fewer innings per start.
   6. Davo Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5880790)
Baseball-Reference.com’s Career Leaders & Records for Strikeouts per 9 IP

There’s some funny stuff here because they only require 1,000 career innings to qualify, so, like, Yu Darvish is #1 (and 12 of the top 16 are active).

My favorite might be Oliver Perez popping up in 14th place (just behind Nolan Ryan!), or Joaquin Benoit holding down the #22 spot. Or the delightful Koufax-Verlander-Liriano sequence!
   7. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 19, 2019 at 02:45 PM (#5880814)
So with his health and heat and established history of strikeouts relative to the league average what does a Nolan Ryan do in today's game?


Pure speculation, of course. But I'd guess he'd have far fewer strikeouts. My understanding of what made Nolan Ryan so unique was that he threw all-out a'la your best one-inning fireball relievers, but he had the endurance to do that for 7-9 innings every 4-5 days. But he wouldn't be throwing nearly that many innings in the modern game and I'm not sure that Ryan really had anything left in reserve that he really could throw harder knowing he only had to go 5-6 innings. I would guess his K/9 would go up because he'd be facing more batters more willing to strike out - although, then again, in the modern game, Ryan's fastball might not stand out as much as it did in the 1970s.

Maybe 10% higher K/9 but in 30% fewer innings? Something like that. And the 30% fewer innings assumes that he still gets to be a starting pitcher - as #5 touches on, I think the default thinking in the modern MLB is that a guy with Nolan Ryan's stuff would work better as a relief pitcher (e.g., Aroldis Chapman).
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: September 19, 2019 at 02:48 PM (#5880817)
Yeah, I'd guess 225 innings / 325 K's at his peak.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 19, 2019 at 03:24 PM (#5880829)
I think it’s very likely that Ryan gets pigeonholed as a reliever.
   10. DCA Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5880853)
Modern era Ryan. One thing that being a reliever means is that you have a smaller portfolio of success and fewer opportunities to come back after a bad run. Marmol had a bad start to 2013, then traded and ended on a good run. 13 poor innings the following year (2 starts worth) and he was done. Not sure if there was an injury or not.
   11. DCA Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:22 PM (#5880859)
Ryan was up and down throughout his career. On a seasonal basis, he ranged from average to quite good, so was never in any danger of losing his rotation spot.

But that might not be true as a RP. For example, 1978 (age 31 season). He had a 3.72 ERA, slightly below league average. But he had a three month run May-July of 4.65 ERA (41 innings), 7.23 ERA (19 innings), and 5.10 ERA (42 innings). Do that over two consecutive seasons instead of 1/2 of one season, beginning the run with a 113 ERA+, and that might be career-ending.

And even if he got the opportunity to come back, the following year (a good one overall, 3.60 ERA, 113 ERA+) he had a 5.38 ERA in the second half (87 IP).

I wonder how much of RP performance and narrative is simply a fluke the equivalent of a disaster start or two (e.g. Wade Miley this month, no reliever could survive that since it would occur over the better part of a month, but Miley kept on getting the ball and will continue to do so).
   12. Booey Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5880863)
A sign of how much pitcher use has changed- only the fourth such time (by the fourth different pitcher) that this milestone has been reached since 2003, in spite of the explosion of strikeouts since then.


This is kind of misleading. There were no 300 K seasons from 2003-2014, so this is really the 4th such season since 2015. They're not that uncommon anymore.

Unfortunately, since no one pitches more than 220-ish innings anymore, all these recent 300 K seasons barely crack the mark. The days of the 330-380 K seasons that Koufax, Ryan, and the Unit put up during their peaks are gone.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:34 PM (#5880867)
The days of the 330-380 K seasons that Koufax, Ryan, and the Unit put up during their peaks are gone.
Maybe. But I'm sure something very similar was also said before Unit.
   14. Booey Posted: September 19, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5880886)
#13 - Probably, but even with K/9 rising, there's got to be a limit to how many strikeouts a pitcher can get in just 220 innings. A terminal velocity of sorts. 380 k's in 220 innings just sounds impossible.

Yeah, people have said that before about things we did end up seeing again (300 wins), but on the flipside, there's been other accomplishments that really have gone extinct, (likely) for good (.400 avg, 30 wins).
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: September 19, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5880889)
#13 - Probably, but even with K/9 rising, there's got to be a limit to how many strikeouts a pitcher can get in just 220 innings. A terminal velocity of sorts. 380 k's in 220 innings just sounds impossible.
There's a decent chance that we'll see some more 240-250 inning seasons.
   16. Booey Posted: September 19, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5880899)
Last to:

300 innings - Steve Carlton 1980
290 innings - Bert Blyleven 1985
280 innings - Charlie Hough/Roger Clemens 1987
270 innings - Randy Johnson 1999
260 innings - Roy Halladay 2003
250 innings - Justin Verlander 2011
240 innings - David Price/Johnny Cueto 2014
230 innings - David Price 2016

I think we'll see 230 innings again, and maybe even a surprising 240 inning season, but I'd be pretty shocked if we ever see another 250+.

I suppose it's possible that they'll eventually reduce the amount of pitchers allowed on a roster so the over reliance on relievers tapers off a bit. I doubt it, though.
   17. BrianBrianson Posted: September 20, 2019 at 03:16 AM (#5881121)
The last guy to hit 250 innings is still pitching, the last guy to hit 260 would've been just young enough to still be pitching if he hadn't died. It's a bit premature to declare those days over.
   18. Booey Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5881207)
#17 - Not necessarily. The game has changed a lot in the last decade, and there's no signs that it's going back to the way it used to be.
   19. bbmck Posted: September 20, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5881231)
10+ K regular season games since 1908 and average number of Outs recorded in those starts:

215 - Nolan Ryan 25.2, 59.1% CG
212 - Randy Johnson 23.4, 32.5% CG
110 - Roger Clemens 24.4, 42.7% CG
108 - Pedro Martinez 23.0, 25.9% CG
97 - Sandy Koufax 26.9, 76.3% CG

93 - Curt Schilling 23.2, 28.0% CG
92 - Max Scherzer 21.4, 8.7% CG
84 - Steve Carlton 25.5, 61.9% CG
78 - Chris Sale 21.7, 9.0% CG
74 - Bob Gibson 27.4, 83.8% CG

74 - Sam McDowell 25.8, 59.5% CG
70 - Tom Seaver 26.5, 65.7% CG
67 - Justin Verlander 21.4, 11.9% CG
62 - Clayton Kershaw 22.9, 21.0% CG
59 - David Cone 23.3, 23.7% CG
   20. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2019 at 03:21 PM (#5881261)
The last guy to hit 250 innings is still pitching, the last guy to hit 260 would've been just young enough to still be pitching if he hadn't died. It's a bit premature to declare those days over.

Halladay retired after the 2013 season and died after the 2017 season. He's not Clemente.

Unless you meant that, absent injury, his age means he would still be pitching now. Except he'd be 42, so probably not.

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