Mad Max reaches 2,000 strikeouts

Max Scherzer matched Nolan Ryan for third-fewest games needed to reach 2,000 career strikeouts. AP Photo/Mark Tenally

Max Scherzer struck out Nomar Mazara in the fourth inning Sunday to record his 2,000th career strikeout. Scherzer is the second pitcher this month to reach the milestone. Clayton Kershaw did it on June 2.

Scherzer needed 1,784 career innings pitched to reach 2,000 strikeouts, the third-fewest in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Pedro Martinez reached the mark in 1,711 1/3 career innings and fellow Hall of Famer Randy Johnson did it in 1,733 1/3 innings.

The Elias Sports Bureau also notes that Scherzer tied Nolan Ryan for the third-fewest games needed to reach 2,000 strikeouts, as noted in the graphic below.

Scherzer and Ryan both accomplished the feat in their 287th game. The only players to do it quicker were Johnson (262 games) and Kershaw (277 games).

How he’s done it

More than half of Scherzer’s strikeouts have been with his fastball. Entering today, 1,044 of his strikeouts have come with the pitch.

According to FanGraphs pitch value, Scherzer’s fastball has been the second-most valuable since 2013 (his first Cy Young season), behind Clayton Kershaw.

Scherzer’s biggest strikeout victim has been Adam Dunn. Scherzer has struck out the slugger 24 times in his career, six more times than he has any other hitter.

What’s next?

Scherzer can become the 11th pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts in each in league. He had 1,081 strikeouts with the Tigers in the AL, and his 2,000th strikeout gave him 919 in his combined Diamondbacks and Nationals career.

The Hall of Fame is looking like a more attainable goal despite Scherzer’s early-career struggles bumping his career ERA to 3.33.

Scherzer’s case would be bolstered by a third Cy Young. Nine pitchers have won at least three Cy Youngs: seven Hall-of-Famers, Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

The MLB record record-holder for strikeouts is Nolan Ryan, who had 5,714 in his career. If Scherzer strikes out 200 batters a year for the remainder of his career, he would have to pitch another 18.5 seasons (past age 50!) to catch Ryan.