The rise of the 12-strikeout game

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Last night, it was Dillon Gee and Doug Fister. On Wednesday, it was Eric Stults, of all people.

All told, there have been 23 12-strikeout games from pitchers one-third of the way through the 2013 season. Not only is it a record pace, but it’s already more than the entire league achieved in 2005 or 2008. It matches the total of 12-strikeout performances from 2009.

The all-time record for 12-strikeout games was 57 in 1965, followed by 54 from both 1968 and 1997. Tripling this year’s total, since most every team has played 51-55 games, would put us at 69 for 2013.

That’s a huge step forward from recent years. Here’s a list of 12-strikeout games by season since 1996:

1996: 24
1997: 54
1998: 51
1999: 41
2000: 44
2001: 49
2002: 40
2003: 26
2004: 31
2005: 19
2006: 29
2007: 27
2008: 20
2009: 23
2010: 35
2011: 36
2012: 46

Of course, we’re seeing more strikeouts now than ever before, but we also have more attention paid to pitch counts these days and a lot of starters leaving before they can rack up 12 strikeouts. That likely played a role in the decline that started a decade ago, though the fact that Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens were all getting up there in years was important as well. Those four rank first, third, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the number of 12-strikeout games since 1916. The active leader in 12-K games is Johan Santana with 15. Next are Tim Lincecum with 12 and Justin Verlander with 10.

This year, 19 different pitchers have turned in the 23 12-strikeout games. Yu Darvish is responsible for three, while Verlander and Anibal Sanchez have two apiece. The Tigers have six in all, with Max Scherzer and Fister also on the list.

As for the victims, the Braves and Mariners both make the list three times. The Braves were the loser in the high-strikeout game of 2013, when Sanchez fanned 17 in eight innings on April 26.

The Padres’ Stults still rates as the unlikeliest with 12 strikeouts. He hadn’t reached that total in any two consecutive starts since 2007.

Anthony Rendon is open to an extension with the Nationals

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Third baseman Anthony Rendon is reportedly open to a contract extension with the Nationals, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post said Sunday. Rendon told reporters that he didn’t know if agent Scott Boras would discuss an extension with the club, contrary to previous reports confirming the two had already started that conversation.

Rendon, 27, is coming off of his best career year to date. He finished the 2017 season batting .301/.403/.533 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI through 605 plate appearances, good enough to earn him sixth place in NL MVP voting. He made his third postseason appearance after helping Nationals through the National League Division Series, and contributed a pair of extra-base hits before the team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 5.

Rendon is still arbitration-eligible through 2019, but stands to receive a hefty payday once he enters free agency in 2020. While it stands to reason that the Nats would want to lock up a player who contributed a whopping 6.9 fWAR last year, making him the most valuable player on their roster, an extension appeals to Rendon as well. “Why not stay with one organization?” he said Sunday. The 2018 season will be his sixth with the team.