Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber were dominant on Monday, combining for 17 scoreless innings against the Braves and Tigers, respectively. But the pair of reigning Cy Young Award winners outdid themselves by combining to do something unprecedented.
Kluber and Scherzer both threw at least eight shutout innings, allowed two hits or fewer and struck out 10 or more batters. It is the only time in MLB history both reigning Cy Young Award winners have done so on the same day.
Here are more facts and figures from Monday's overpowering performances from Kluber and Scherzer:
• Kluber and Scherzer combined for 23 strikeouts and one walk over 17 innings (13 strikeouts and one walk in eight innings for Kluber, 10 strikeouts and no walks in nine innings for Scherzer). Each gave up only two hits, and no runner reached second base against them in either game.
• Add in the criterion of also giving up two or fewer hits, and you have to go back another season, to Sept. 25, 2015. On that day, Rich Hill and Carlos Carrasco both tossed shutouts with double-digit K's and two hits or fewer allowed.
• In addition to dominating on the mound, Scherzer also stole the first base of his career on Monday, in the seventh inning off Braves reliever Peter Moylan. That made Scherzer and the Astros' Nolan Ryan (on May 16, 1984) the only pitchers to toss a shutout, strike out 10 or more batters and steal a base in the same game.
Most career starts with 10+ K's and 1 BB or fewer, active pitchers
- Clayton Kershaw: 41
2. Max Scherzer: 40 (including Monday's)
- Chris Sale: 33
4. Corey Kluber: 29 (including Monday's)
- David Price: 26
• They're not just among the active leaders, though -- Scherzer and Kluber also rank highly on the all-time MLB leaderboard for the most such starts. Scherzer's 40 rank as sixth-most in Major League history, while Kluber's 29 place him in a tie for ninth, with Sandy Koufax. (Randy Johnson tops the all-time list with 78 games of 10-plus strikeouts with one walk or fewer.)
• Kluber has been on an incredible run of dominance since he returned from the disabled list on June 1 of last season. In his 26 regular-season starts since then, the Indians' ace has a 1.62 ERA, 251 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 189 1/3 innings pitched.
• With Monday's gem, Kluber also now has 15 double-digit strikeout games in that span since last June, which leads the Major Leagues. Guess who's in second? Yes, it's Scherzer, who now has 12 after tallying one more on Monday himself.
• Eight of Kluber's 13 strikeouts on Monday were looking. Seven of those eight were on sinkers, six of them on the outside corner to right-handed hitters. One was a cutter, also on the outside corner, to Jose Cabrera. By contrast, seven of Scherzer's 10 strikeouts were swinging. Five of those seven strikeouts came on Scherzer's four-seam fastball, which topped out at 95.4 mph per Statcast™. The other two came on a slider and a cutter.
• Eight of Kluber's 12 swinging strikes in the game came on his signature curveball, which might be the single best pitch in the Major Leagues. Since the beginning of last season, Kluber has gotten 263 swings and misses on his curveball, more than 50 ahead of the next-closest pitcher (Zack Godley).
• In addition to dominating on the mound, Scherzer also stole the first base of his career on Monday, in the seventh inning off Braves reliever Peter Moylan. That made Scherzer the first pitcher since the Astros' Nolan Ryan on May 16, 1984, to toss a complete-game shutout, strike out 10 or more batters and steal a base in the same game.
• Take away the 10-strikeout requirement, and it's still unusual for a pitcher to both throw a shutout and steal a base. The last to do it before Scherzer was Andrew Cashner on Sept. 16, 2013, and only two others have done it this millennium (Zack Greinke on July 13, 2013 and Cole Hamels on Sept. 1, 2009). And Scherzer is just the 15th pitcher to accomplish the feat in MLB's divisional era (since 1969).
• The key to Mad Max's stolen base? Jumping out to a huge lead. According to Statcast™, Scherzer's secondary lead was 33.6 feet on his steal (the MLB average secondary lead on successful steals is 21.6 feet). That's what let him swipe the bag, because Max isn't the fastest runner -- his sprint speed to second was 25.5 feet per second (MLB average is 27 ft/sec).