Their respective abilities to make hitters swing and miss was on full display in 2017 — Sale led the league in both cumulative strikeouts (308) and strikeout rate (36.2%), while Scherzer finished second in both categories (268 and 34.4%) among qualified pitchers. They also became the first pair of pitchers to both reach the 200-strikeout plateau before August since 2002, when Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it.
Each hurler took the mound Friday night, and it was more of the same story. Sale didn’t factor in the decision, but he still racked up 10 strikeouts in six shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins. Meanwhile, Scherzer won his fourth straight start, baffling the Miami Marlins over eight innings with 11 strikeouts of his own.
Outside of dominating their opposition once again, these two accomplished the same feat — they once again recorded their 200th strikeout of the season before the calendar flipped to August. That led to this cool statistic:
That was just the beginning of the cool stats for the night, though. As for Sale, Friday’s appearance was just the latest in a string dominant starts that has led to legitimate video-game numbers.
Not to be outdone, Scherzer probably wants everyone to know this isn’t his first or second go-around when it comes to the 200-strikeout club. It was actually the seventh consecutive time he’s accomplished the feat, making him the fourth pitcher ever to do so.
As one could’ve imagined, these two are both at or near the top of leaderboards with regard to just about everything related to strikeouts. This includes cumulative strikeouts (Sale at 207, Scherzer at 200), strikeout rate (Sale at 36.2%, Scherzer at 34.4%), and swinging-strike rate (Scherzer at 16.6%, Sale at 15.8%).
Heading into Saturday’s games, Sale leads all qualified pitchers with 5.6 fWAR, while Scherzer is second in the National League with a mark of 4.8. The Nationals’ right-hander is giving himself a solid chance at taking home a third straight NL Cy Young award (fourth overall), while Boston’s ace might finally take home the honor for the first time after six consecutive top-six finishes.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.