Cubs closer Carlos Marmol piling up strikeouts at historic rate

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Carlos Marmol picked up his 16th save of the season last night by striking out five of the seven batters he faced, giving him an amazing 77 strikeouts in 40.2 innings on the year. To put that in some context, consider that Nick Blackburn, John Lannan, and Brad Bergesen have combined for 78 strikeouts this season … in 234 innings.
Not only is 77 strikeouts in 40.2 innings by far the best rate of Marmol’s career–which is saying something given that he’s had double-digit strikeouts per nine innings in each of the past three years–it would be the highest strikeout rate in baseball history among pitchers with at least 50 innings in a season.
Here’s how Marmol would fit into the current leaderboard:

                    YEAR      SO/9
CARLOS MARMOL       2010     17.04
Eric Gagne          2003     14.98
Billy Wagner        1999     14.95
Brad Lidge          2004     14.93
Armando Benitez     1999     14.77
Billy Wagner        1998     14.55
Billy Wagner        1997     14.38

No pitcher in baseball history has ever managed to crack 15 strikeouts per nine innings, yet Marmol is currently at 17.04. Amazing.