With seven strikeouts over three and two-thirds innings pitched on Sunday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw reached 301 strikeouts for the season. Despite clinching home field advantage over the New York Mets for the ALDS, the Dodgers still sent Kershaw out to pitch against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. It was stated prior the start of the game that Kershaw likely would only throw sixty pitches, or hopefully long enough to get to 300 strikeouts. Following his 301st strikeout in the 4th inning, a two out single by Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko, ended Kershaw’s final start of the season.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 4, 2015
With his 300th strikeout against Melvin Upton to end the third inning, Kershaw becomes only the 34th pitcher to record 300 strikeouts in a season, and only the second Dodger to do so (Sandy Koufax achieved the feat three times for the Dodgers in the 1960s). Kershaw also becomes the first pitcher in 13 years to achieve the feat. The last two pitchers to do so were teammates Curt Schilling (316) and Randy Johnson (334) for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002.
For Kershaw, 300 strikeouts is just another milestone reached in an already phenomenal career. At the age of 27, Kershaw has already won three Cy Young awards and now has once again become a part of baseball history. At 232 2/3 innings pitched this season, Kershaw also used the second fewest innings to reach the milestone, behind only Pedro Martinez who achieved the feat (with 313 strikeouts in total) in only 213 1/3 innings pitched for the Boston Red Sox in 1999.
For further comparison, Kershaw has the fourth highest strikeout rate of any 300 strikeout season, behind only two seasons by Randy Johnson and one season by Pedro Martinez. Kershaw’s 11.55 K/9 this season is the best of his career so far, and it seems Kershaw is only get better with each year.
While there have been only thirty-four 300 strikeout seasons by a pitcher, only 15 pitchers have achieved the feat. Kershaw is truly among elite company with this latest record and seems to only be getting stronger. Despite the first 300 strikeout season of his career, and the first in thirteen years, Kershaw still will likely finish second or third in the NL Cy Young race. Whether Kershaw wins another Cy Young this year or not, he has definitely already solidified his place among the greatest left handed pitchers of all time, even at the young age of 27.