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.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.