Usually the MLB strikeout leader is a big-name, Cy Young-caliber pitcher.
In fact, every single MLB strikeout leader during the past 20 years fits that description:
Randy Johnson (nine times)
Johan Santana (two times)
Justin Verlander (two times)
Curt Schilling (two times)
You get the idea.
If the season ended today Max Scherzer would be joining that amazing company, as the Tigers right-hander has an MLB-leading 186 strikeouts to go along with a pedestrian 4.41 ERA. In terms of raw stuff Scherzer has always seemed like a potential ace, but he’s 27 years old with a 4.01 career ERA and would obviously stick out from the above list like a sore thumb.
Stephen Strasburg trails Scherzer for the MLB strikeout lead 186-to-183 and would certainly fit in better with that group, but the Nationals’ plan to limit his workload down the stretch will make it very tough for Strasburg to overtake Scherzer.
However, next up on this year’s leaderboard are R.A. Dickey (181), Justin Verlander (180), Felix Hernandez (179), and Clayton Kershaw (175). So if Scherzer is going to win the strikeout title and crash the big-name party he’s going to have to hold off a bunch of big names to do it.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.