Last week we asked the writers at Redleg Nation what statistical chase they were looking forward to in September with the Reds out of the playoff race. There were some fun answers among the group. This week I dropped the ball on the question of the week. But I’m going to dive into another statistical chase that could be historic for the Cincinnati Reds franchise.

Over the weekend Luis Castillo struck out 10 batters for the Reds in his start against Arizona. That pushed him from 198 strikeouts to 208 strikeouts on the season. In the long history of the Cincinnati professional franchise it was only the 18th time a pitcher had a season with at least 200 strikeouts. It was the first time that Luis Castillo has accomplished the feat. It’s the first time for any Red to do it since Johnny Cueto did so in 2014. Edinson Volquez and Aaron Harang (twice) also accomplished the feat in the last two decades. Prior to that you have to go back to 1993 when Jose Rijo struck out 227 hitters.

While looking up all of the Cincinnati pitchers to reach 200 strikeouts in a season I noticed that while it’s been accomplished 18 times, no single team has ever had two pitchers do it. There’s a chance that the 2019 Reds could become that first team. Sonny Gray is currently sitting on 181 strikeouts on the season. That means he would need 19 or more strikeouts the rest of the year to also reach the arbitrary 200 strikeout mark.

If we assume that the Reds keep Sonny Gray on a normal schedule and he starts every 5th spot through the rotation then he will have four more starts this season. Only one stretch of four starts this season for Gray has resulted in fewer than 19 strikeouts. From April 28th through May 15th the right-handed pitcher had 17 strikeouts in 19.1 innings.

There have been a few times where the Reds were close to having two pitchers reach 200 strikeouts. Sort of. In 2013 Homer Bailey finished with 199 strikeouts and Mat Latos had 187. In 1965 Jim Maloney had 244, while Sammy Ellis had 183. That’s it. Those are the only times, other than 2019 where two pitchers on the same pitching staff even had 180+ strikeouts in a season in the history of the franchise.

The game has changed a lot over the years. Strikeout rates are much higher today than they were even 25 years ago, much less 125 years ago. But pitchers are also throwing far less innings today than they did 25 or 125 years ago, too. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are already just the third pair of teammates in Reds history to have 180 or more strikeouts in the same season. But there’s a solid chance that they wind up being the first set of Cincinnati teammates to both top 200 in a season. And at least in this authors opinion, that’s pretty cool.

For those curious, here’s the list of Cincinnati Reds pitchers who have struck out at least 200 batters in a single season.

Year Name Strikeouts
1982 Mario Soto 274
1963 Jim Maloney 265
1886 Tony Mullane 250
1965 Jim Maloney 244
2014 Johnny Cueto 242
1983 Mario Soto 242
1901 Noodles Hahn 239
1993 Jose Rijo 227
1978 Tom Seaver 226
2007 Aaron Harang 218
2006 Aaron Harang 216
1966 Jim Maloney 216
1985 Mario Soto 214
1964 Jim Maloney 214
2019 Luis Castillo 208
2008 Edinson Volquez 206
1967 Gary Nolan 206
1941 Johnny Vander Meer 202

11 Responses

  1. Mason Red

    These two should definitely be the foundation to a really good starting staff but only if the Reds add at least one more dependable starter. And to make sure quality starts aren’t lost they must fix the bullpen and also add some offense.

  2. MBS

    That is really impressive. Bauer has 200 + this season, and last season. So there is a realistic chance that in 2020, we could have 3 guys with 200K’s. I’d imagine that hadn’t happened too many times in MLB history

    • Matt V

      Just 3:
      1967 Minnesota Twins: Dean Chance (220), Jim Kaat (211), Dave Boswell (204)
      1969 Astros: Don Wilson (235), Larry Dierker (222), Tom Griffin (200)
      2013 Tigers: Max Scherzer (240), Justin Verlander (217), Anibel Sanchez (202).

      • Matt V

        Scratch that, I got my info from an outdated source. In fact, the Indians just last year had FOUR 200-strikeout pitchers. – Carlos Carrasco (231), Corey Kluber (222), Trevor Bauer (221), Mike Clevinger (207)

        I’ll post updated ones later if someone else doesn’t beat me to it 🙂

  3. Matt V

    Also, the Astros had 3 in 2018:

    Justin Verlander (290!), Gerrit Cole (276!), Charlie Morton (201)

    Nats already have 3 in 2019:
    Stephen Strasburg (222), Max Scherzer (216), Patrick Corbin (210)

  4. Ken

    How about Cueto, Rijo, Castillo, Gray on the same team throw in Gullet

    • da bear

      Let’s not forget Mario Soto, who has helped Castillo with his changeup in a couple of spring trainings. Soto pitched while bearing the burden of knowing he’d often have to throw a shutout to win a game….or even avoiding a loss.

  5. IndyRedsFan

    For those of you who weren’t around in 1967….Gary Nolan registered those 206 strikeouts as a 19 year old. He only turned 19 in May of 67.

    Pretty impressive….

  6. Michael Smith

    Just so we dont forget. The reds have Castillo and Gray and only had to give up Strailey and Shed Long

    • Matt V

      And a 2019 competitive balance sandwich round A pick.