Kenley Jansen racking up strikeouts at historic rate

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Last season Carlos Marmol set the all-time record by striking out 16.0 batters per nine innings, becoming the first pitcher in baseball history with a strikeout rate above 15.0.

Marmol’s record is probably safe, but Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen looks set to join him in the 15-plus club. Last night Jansen closed out a 3-2 victory for his fourth save of the season and struck out the side in the process, giving him 83 strikeouts in 48 innings overall.

That works out to 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings, which is the second-highest rate of all time:

                  YEAR     SO/9
Carlos Marmol     2010     16.0
KENLEY JANSEN     2011     15.6
Eric Gagne        2003     15.0
Billy Wagner      1999     15.0
Brad Lidge        2004     14.9

Predictably the top five spots all belong to relievers from the past 15 years. In terms of strikeout rates for starting pitchers Randy Johnson has the all-time record with 13.4 in 2001, when he whiffed 372 batters in 250 innings for the Diamondbacks.

Jansen, who began his pro career as a light-hitting catcher and didn’t move to the mound until 2009, has a 2.28 ERA, .156 opponents’ batting average, and 124 strikeouts in 75 innings as a big leaguer.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.