With a fifth-inning strikeout of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg became the third-fastest — in terms of innings pitched — to reach 500 career strikeouts, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The two to do it faster: former Cubs teammates Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
Strasburg entered tonight’s start with a 2.96 ERA in 28 starts. If not for outstanding season-long performances by Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Matt Harvey, Strasburg would have been in the conversation for the NL Cy Young award as predicted before the season started.
The Nationals are still holding on to the smallest sliver of hope to get into the playoffs, trailing in the Wild Card race by 5.5 games. However, their elimination number is two, meaning they could be relegated to October golf sessions as soon as tomorrow afternoon.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.