By: Will Burchfield
It started back in 2014, when Max Scherzer was still a member of the Tigers.
Scherzer struck out 252 batters that season, the first 250-strikeout campaign of his career.
He hasn’t looked back since.
The hard-throwing righty, now pitching for the Nationals, racked up 276 strikeouts in 2015 and then 284 in 2016. On Tuesday night he surpassed the 250-strikeout threshold for the fourth straight season, becoming just the fourth pitcher to do so in MLB history.
The others are all Hall of Famers: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Fergie Jenkins.
Johnson owns the longest streak, reaching the 250-strikeout milestone in six straight seasons from 1997 to 2002 with the Diamondbacks. He won four Cy Young Awards in that span.
Martinez’s streak stretched from 1997 to 2000 with the Expos and the Red Sox. He won three Cy Young Awards in that span. (Johnson and Martinez were pitching in different leagues.)
Jenkins’ streak stretched from 1968 to 1971 with the Cubs.
Johnson, Martinez and Jenkins combined for nine Cy Young Awards and 21 All-Star Game appearances. Scherzer has two Cy Young Awards and five All-Star Game appearances himself.
He’s looking to add another Cy Young to his trophy case this season. The 33-year-old is 15-6 with a 2.59 ERA, a 0.917 WHIP and 253 strikeouts, the latter two of which lead the National League.
Here’s one of his seven strikeouts from Tuesday night in a 4-2 win over the Braves. That slider is devastating.
To put the difficulty of recording 250 strikeouts in a season into perspective, consider that Justin Verlander, a noted strikeout artist, has achieved the feat just three times in his 13-year career.
Nine-year vet and three-time Cy Young-winner Clayton Kershaw has done it once.