It feels like Max Scherzer reaches some sort of milestone every year, if not more frequently. He just added another to his list Friday night.
Scherzer needed seven strikeouts against the Padres to reach 2,500 for his career. He got there by fanning Manuel Margot to lead off the sixth inning at Nationals Park, then proceeded to strike out the next two hitters as well. He picked up his 10th K of the night in the seventh, exiting for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the frame after allowing two runs on four hits, with no walks.
Scherzer is now the 35th pitcher in Major League history to climb to the 2,500-strikeout plateau, and the third active pitcher, after CC Sabathia (2,997) and Justin Verlander (2,752).
Three more should get there soon: Felix Hernandez (2,488), Zack Greinke (2,474) and Cole Hamels (2,445). But each member of that trio is in at least his 14th big league season, and has pitched in at least 400 games. Scherzer, a 34-year-old right-hander, made his 335th start and 344th total appearance Friday, over 12 seasons.
Scherzer not only has ascended the strikeout list faster than those peers, but is now the third-fastest pitcher to get to the 2,500 mark in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Fewest games to 2,500 career strikeouts
Randy Johnson: 313
Nolan Ryan: 338
Max Scherzer: 344
Pedro Martinez: 367
Roger Clemens: 373
How did he get there so quickly? Let’s take a closer look at his strikeout feats.
• Scherzer now has 22 career 10-strikeout, no-walk games in his career. That pushed him ahead of Clemens, and tied him with Clayton Kershaw for third most in Major League history. The only pitchers with more? Johnson (36) and Curt Schilling (27).
• Scherzer recorded his 84th career 10-strikeout game overall on Friday, which tied Steve Carlton for seventh most on record (since 1908). He’s got a ways to go for the top three, which is currently Ryan (215), Johnson (212) and Clemens (110). Scherzer's 84 games with double-digit Ks are 19 more than any other pitcher since Scherzer’s 2008 debut. Chris Sale is second with 65.
• Another good way to accumulate strikeouts is to pile up 300 in a single season. Scherzer did exactly that in 2018, striking out 300 batters on the dot. He became the 17th individual with at least one 300-strikeout season in the modern era (since 1900).
• For good measure, Scherzer was the oldest pitcher in that time to record his first 300-strikeout season, based on age at the end of the season, doing so at 34. Previously, the oldest was Mike Scott, who was 31 for the 1986 Astros.
• In 2016, Scherzer did something else that certainly helped add to the strikeout total -- and fast. On May 11 that season, Scherzer became the fourth pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning outing, joining Clemens (twice), Johnson and Kerry Wood.
• In his no-hitter against the Mets on Oct. 3, 2015, Scherzer accomplished another feat, striking out 17 batters. That total tied Ryan (July 15, 1973) for the most strikeouts by a pitcher in a no-hitter. And in classic Scherzer fashion, he didn’t walk a batter. Ryan had walked four in his 17-strikeout no-hitter, so Scherzer established the mark for strikeouts in a walk-less no-hitter.
What are the details of Scherzer's 2,500 career strikeouts? Let’s take a look.
• Scherzer has struck out 759 different batters in his career. The batter who struck out most against him is Adam Dunn, 24 times. The only other batter with 20 or more strikeouts against him is Asdrubal Cabrera, with 20.
• Scherzer has collected 1,182 of his strikeouts in a Nationals uniform, but don’t forget his 1,081 for the Tigers and 240 for the D-backs, with whom he started his career.
• The milestone 2,500th strikeout came against Margot. But who was his first victim? That would be Jack Cassel, a pitcher who started for the Astros against Scherzer's D-backs when Scherzer made his MLB debut as a reliever on April 29, 2008, in Arizona.
Scherzer’s milestone strikeouts
No. 1 -- Jack Cassel (HOU), 4/29/08
No. 500 -- Mike Carp (SEA), 6/11/11
No. 1,000 -- Jason Kipnis (CLE), 8/8/13
No. 1,500 -- Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), 8/4/15
No. 2,000 -- Nomar Mazara (TEX), 6/11/17
No. 2,500 -- Manuel Margot (SD), 4/26/19
• We don’t have pitch tracking info from every one of Scherzer’s strikeouts, unfortunately, but we have that information for the majority of them (2,491 of his 2,503 so far). Of those, 1,346 have been recorded on fastballs, 561 on sliders, 515 on changeups and 69 on curveballs.
The 2,500th came Friday on a slider, bringing Scherzer to his latest round number.
Next up is the big 3,000, a highly exclusive club that should soon welcome Sabathia as its 17th member. Verlander is on track to get there as well. But Scherzer, if he continues his current pace, shouldn't be too far behind.
Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.