With his fifth strikeout in his outing Tuesday night, Red Sox lefty Chris Sale ran his career strikeout total to 2,000. He is the 83rd pitcher in baseball history to reach 2,000 and the other 82 needed more innings pitched than Sale did, meaning he’s considered the fastest ever to 2,000. 

It isn’t particularly close. 

Via Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, here are the six fastest in terms of innings needed to get to 2,000: 

  1. Sale, 1626 innings
  2. Pedro Martinez, 1711 1/3 
  3. Randy Johnson, 1733 1/3
  4. Max Scherzer, 1784
  5. Clayton Kershaw, 1837 2/3
  6. Nolan Ryan, 1865 2/3

The other five are Hall of Famers or almost certainly headed that way. 

Sale is 30 years old and even if he regresses — which he has this season — he figures to keep racking up the strikeouts. 

Could he get to 3,000? 

Only 17 pitchers in baseball history have reached that plateau. CC Sabathia joined the list earlier this year. Justin Verlander’s going to get there soon (2,923 career strikeouts). Scherzer (2,638) is gonna get there. Zack Greinke (2,578) has a shot. 

Sale entered the night 6-11 with a 4.41 ERA, but he was still leading the league in strikeouts per nine innings. He’ll continue, as I said, to punch guys out, possibly even at a historic rate. If this keeps up and he gets his run prevention back under control, he’ll join the above names in Cooperstown. 


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