With 10 more strikeouts on Sunday, Red Sox starter Chris Sale now has 73 this season. That’s 13 more than this year’s second place pitcher for strikeouts, the Mets Jacob deGrom (60). Sale is averaging 12.72 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched, the best ratio among all Major League hurlers (minimum 35.0 IP).
Sale’s 2.3 Wins About Replacement (WAR) rating is tops among baseball pitchers and fourth best among all players. He’s allowing just 5.226 hits per 9.0 IP (2nd best in MLB to Ervin Santana) while his 6.636 strikeout-to-walk ratio is fourth best overall. Sale’s 1.43 FIP is the best in baseball. As Fangraphs.com explains, FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures pitcher performance while stripping out the role of defense and luck, making it a more stable indicator pitcher performance than a runs-allowed based statistics that are highly dependent on the quality of defense, for example.
Sale’s Strikeout Streak
Sunday’s was Sale’s seventh straight start with 10 or more strikeouts this season making him one of just five MLB pitchers since 1913 to ring up such a streak in a single season. The others are elite company, indeed: Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan, and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.
Comparisons with Pedro have been frequent this season as Sale has been dominant in practically every Sox outing. As it turns out, Sale and Martinez already share the MLB record for most games in a single season with 10+ strikeouts (eight games each). Pedro’s streak came August 19 to September 27, 1999. Sales’ was from May 23 to June 30, 2015.
The Great Martinez does all past MLB pitchers one better, however. Pedro’s string of games with 10+ strikeouts can be as many as ten straight if you count across seasonal barriers. That happened when Martinez’ streak that began that August in 1999 continued into his first two starts of 2000, when he collected 11 and 12 strikeouts on April 4 and April 9, 2000, respectively.