The Yankees continue their four-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night in the Bronx. After losing 8-2 on Thursday, the Bombers could use a stopper to swing momentum in their direction. That’s where Gerrit Cole comes in to (hopefully) save the day.
And if he gets on one of his patented roles, he could reach another noteworthy MLB pitching milestone.
The Yankees ace enters this appearance with 1,988 career strikeouts. For those not wanting to do the math at home, that means he’s just 12 punchies away from reaching 2K. That itself is a noteworthy accomplishment — there are just 86 pitchers who have surpassed that mark in their respective careers. But, depending on how fast he can rack up his next dozen, he’ll earn an extra distinction among his fellow hurlers in the 2,000-strikeout club:
Fewest innings to reach 2K strikeouts:
1. C. Sale – 1,626.0
2. P. Martinez – 1,711.1
3. R. Johnson – 1,733.1
4. M. Scherzer – 1,784.0
5. C. Kershaw – 1,837.2
6. N. Ryan – 1,865.2
Gerrit Cole has 1988 strikeouts in 1701.2 innings pic.twitter.com/1WFnJ9kWgw
— YankeesMuse (@YankeesMuse) May 12, 2023
So, if he can get the job done in his next 9.2 innings pitched, he’ll either join or edge himself ahead of Pedro Martinez to become the second-fastest hurler to get it done.
The names he’ll join on this list are pretty telling, as well. Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan are all already in the Hall of Fame. Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer are likely ticketed for Cooperstown once their respective careers are complete. Chris Sale probably would’ve been part of this group right now if injuries hadn’t derailed him in recent years, too.
So, that’s all good news for Cole, who has built his reputation on being a workhorse and taking the ball every five days.
Making some history on Friday night won’t be easy with the Rays in town, of course. They’re entering this matchup with a team strikeout rate of 21.9%. That’s just outside the 10 lowest in baseball. This will also be Cole’s second straight start vs. Tampa Bay. Despite producing his worst outing of the young season, he still racked up six strikeouts in five innings.
Cole has struck out 10-plus hitters in a start twice so far this season, but he’s yet to reach 12. We’ll see what he has in store for us on Friday night, and what still may be left to accomplish in his next start.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.