Justin Verlander threw 133 pitches in last night’s win over the Rangers, which got me wondering about the most pitches ever thrown in a postseason start.
Turns out, Verlander wasn’t even close to cracking the top 10. And that’s only counting games since people started tracking pitch counts, which rules out a whole lot of data before 1970 or so:
YEAR IP PIT
Steve Carlton 1980 8.0 159
Luis Tiant 1975 9.0 155
Britt Burns 1983 9.1 150
David Cone 1995 7.2 147
Curt Schilling 1993 9.0 147
F. Valenzuela 1981 9.0 147
Livan Hernandez 1997 9.0 143
Al Leiter 2000 8.2 142
Livan Hernandez 1997 8.0 142
Roger Clemens 1986 7.1 142
Verlander ranks tied for 44th and only three of the 43 guys ahead of him logged fewer than his 7.1 innings.
Livan Hernandez is the only pitcher to appear on the list twice and even more amazingly the two starts were 11 days apart in 1997. One was the famous 15-strikeout, Eric Gregg-umpired complete game versus the Braves in the NLCS and the other was an eight-inning, six-run outing versus the Indians in the World Series.
Also of note is that four of the top-10 highest pitch counts in playoff history came in losing efforts.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”