Max Scherzer takes over major league lead in strikeouts

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It’ll be a short-lived lead, but Max Scherzer fanned 10 Twins over seven shutout innings Wednesday to move past teammate Justin Verlander for the major league lead with 178 strikeouts. He’s gotten there in just 140 2/3 innings, while Verlander has racked up his 174 strikeouts in 175 2/3 innings.

If Scherzer maintains his current pace, he’d finish with the season with the highest strikeout rate for a starting pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002.

Here’s the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings since 2000. I’m using a minimum of 162 innings:

13.41 – Randy Johnson (2001 Diamondbacks)
12.56 – Randy Johnson (2000 Diamondbacks)
11.78 – Pedro Martinez (2000 Red Sox)
11.56 – Randy Johnson (2002 Diamondbacks)
11.35 – Kerry Wood (2003 Cubs)
11.20 – Kerry Wood (2001 Cubs)
10.97 – Oliver Perez (2004 Pirates)
10.97 – Curt Schilling (2002 Diamondbacks)
10.93 – Erik Bedard (2007 Orioles)
10.79 – Pedro Martinez (2002 Red S0x)

Scherzer is currently at 11.39 K/9 IP with 22 more innings needed to qualify for the list. Of course, I should also note that the mark is barely the best in the majors this year: Stephen Strasburg entered his start Wednesday with 166 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings, good for 11.21 K/9 IP. Yu Darvish is also at 10.36 this year, with 162 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka released from hospital after taking line drive to head

Masahiro Tanaka line drive
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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive during a simulated game on Saturday afternoon. He remained on the ground for a while before exiting the field with the help of trainers. He went to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and was released in the evening.

Per James Wagner of The New York Times, Tanaka entered the hospital with concussion-like symptoms but they went away. Tanaka underwent a series of tests, including a CT scan, and checked out fine. The right-hander will still likely undergo MLB’s concussion protocol.

Tanaka, 31, will pitch out of the middle of the Yankees’ rotation behind Gerrit Cole and James Paxton during this shortened 60-game season. Tanaka had an up-and-down 2019 campaign, finishing with a 4.45 ERA, 149 strikeouts, and 40 walks over 182 innings of work. He is entering the final year of his seven-year, $155 million contract, so he may enter free agency after the season.