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:
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.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.