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.
|1941||Johnny Vander Meer||202|