K's keep coming: Max's strikeout milestones

February 12th, 2021

Whenever Max Scherzer steps on the mound, it's anyone's guess as to how many strikeouts he will tally by the end of the game. What's a standout performance for some pitchers is just another day at the office for the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Take a look at some of the strikeout milestones Scherzer has reached as a member of the Nationals -- with the possibility of more to come.

20 strikeouts in a single game
Facing the Tigers -- his former team -- on May 11, 2016, Scherzer became the fourth pitcher in Major League history to fan 20 batters in a nine-inning game. The only pitchers to do so before him were Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens (twice). Scherzer also joined Johnson as just the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter (two) and 20-strikeout game in their careers. With his performance, Scherzer set the Nationals franchise' record in single-game strikeouts in the 3-2 win.

"Tonight, at the end of the night, was a special night," Scherzer said. "Because, I mean, the strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20 -- it's sexy."

98 double-digit strikeout games
Checking the box score, it’s not unusual to see 10 or more strikeouts in Scherzer’s stat line. It’s who he’s passing in the rankings that turns heads even more. On Sept. 13, 2020, in an 8-4 loss to the Braves, Scherzer moved ahead of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax for fifth place all-time in games with double-digit strikeouts. Scherzer’s 98 games trail Nolan Ryan (215), Johnson (212), Clemens (110) and Pedro Martinez (108).

“It’s a really cool feat to be able to say you passed somebody like Sandy Koufax in anything,” Scherzer said. “The fact that I was able to do that, that’s awesome.”

300 strikeouts in a season
Closing out his 2018 season on Sept. 25, Scherzer recorded his 300th strikeout of the year when he fanned Austin Dean in the seventh inning of a 9-4 win over the Marlins. He joined Curt Schilling, Johnson, Martinez, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale as the sixth pitcher since 1990 to reach the 300-strikeout mark in a season, and he was the first right-hander to do so since Schilling in ‘02. Scherzer’s 300 strikeouts stand as the Nationals’ single-season record.

"I wouldn't say it was a goal,” Scherzer said. “It was just something as I solidified myself in the big leagues and showed I was able to get to those marks. It was something I dreamed of, reaching this mark, because I know how hard it is to consistently go out there and strike guys out."

2,500th career strikeout
With a slider that caught Manuel Margot looking, Scherzer recorded his 2,500th career strikeout on April 16, 2019, in a 4-3 loss to the Padres. Just 34 other Major League pitchers had reached that mark, and Scherzer needed the third-fewest games (344) to do so. Only Johnson (313) and Ryan (338) did it faster. Scherzer described the achievement as “a cool milestone to reach.” He enters the 2021 season with 2,784 strikeouts, second among active players.