Chris Sale struck out 15 Cubs on Sunday. Can he put together a 300-strikeout season?

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Chris Sale went seven innings, allowed only one hit and two walks, and struck out 15 in Sunday’s 3-1 win against the Cubs. That puts him at 208 strikeouts across 23 starts on the season along with a 3.32 ERA. He’d be in the AL Cy Young conversation if he hadn’t allowed seven runs in back-to-back starts on July 30 and August 4.

Sale is also on pace for 298 strikeouts over 33 starts. A pitcher hasn’t struck out 300 in a season since teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did so for the Diamondbacks in 2002, with 316 and 334, respectively. Sale struck out 10-plus batters in eight consecutive starts between May 23 and June 30, but did so only once since the beginning of July entering Sunday’s start against the Cubs.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has 205 strikeouts across 23 starts, putting him on pace for 294 over 33 starts. Either pitcher, with a strong finish to the regular season, could accomplish the feat.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.