Max Scherzer started Friday night with 2,798 career strikeouts, eight shy of tying Hall of Fame hurler Cy Young (2,806 Ks) for 22nd on Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeout leaders list.
As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes “different statistics providers present a different strikeout total for Cy Young ... but according to the Elias Sports Bureau (the official statistician of Major League Baseball), Young’s career strikeout total is 2,806.”
So going in, eight Ks would tie Cy Young, and nine would give Scherzer the 22nd spot on the list all to himself.
Max Scherzer, Filthy 86mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/6cnytc9XbV— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 16, 2021
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young award winner, picked up three Ks in the first two innings of his third start of the 2021 campaign. He was going up against the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C., facing the team he debuted for in April of 2008, when he picked up his first K from the first batter he faced, before he added six more strikeouts that night (in a relief appearance).
Scherzer added his fourth K of the night in the third, and picked up two more in the fourth for six total on the night, then struck out the opposing pitcher for K No. 7 and out No. 3 in the fifth, completing five scoreless innings in a 0-0 game.
His eighth K came in the first at bat of the seventh inning, when Scherzer threw a 94 MPH 2-2 heater by Josh VanMeter for his 2,806th career strikeout. He picked up 2,807 in the next at bat and passed Young to take sole possession of the 22nd spot on the list. Of course he got 2,808 in the final at bat of the inning, striking out the side to finish strong with 10 Ks from 25 batters faced in a 106-pitch outing.
Max Scherzer, elevated 94mph Fastball and K Stalk.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2021
Passes Cy Young on the All Time K list. pic.twitter.com/O2DtyAQKSc
Scherzer dominated D-backs’ hitters, collecting 14 swinging strikes with his fastball, which sat at 93.3 MPH, and 19 swinging strikes overall, along with 21 called strikes (12 with his FB), on his historic night.
Of course, he said he wasn’t really aware that he was approaching Cy Young on the K list.
“I didn’t even know that was happening tonight, but for me it just attests to durability,” he told reporters in a post game Zoom call.
“To be able to go out there and just be durable year in and year out, and be able to execute pitches, that’s what I take away from passing Cy Young, obviously one of the greatest of all time,” the 36-year-old, 14-year veteran said.
Max Scherzer, Wicked 86mph Slider...and K Strut.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2021
10th K. pic.twitter.com/x3MMvxbuBT
“Different game now than it is back then, but to be able to do that, to me it’s more than just pitching, it’s how you take care of your body, what you do to prepare, and what you have to do.”
“It’s a ‘Wow,” manager Davey Martinez said when asked for his reaction to Scherzer’s latest of many career milestones. “It’s awesome. I told him, ‘Congratulations,’ when he came out, and he kind of looked at me, and I said, ‘Yeah, you just passed Cy Young.’
And his response was, ‘Yeah, I have three of those on my wall.’ I go, ‘Congratulations.’
Next on the list is another Hall of Famer, Mike Mussina, who piled up 2,813 strikeouts in his 18-year major league career.