Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: The case of Kluber's K's

Indians right-hander racks up another 14-strikeout effort in latest victory

MLB Notebook: The case of Kluber's K's

In 2013, the Detroit Tigers became the first team to feature three qualifying pitchers with strikeout rates of at least 8.90 per nine innings. With Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander doing their thing, the Tigers amassed a Major League-record 1,428 strikeouts. When it comes to starters and punchout rates, the 2014 Indians employ a different schematic than the one used by the 2013 Tigers, but the Tribe -- in Corey Kluber -- have a pretty good alpha dog, and with a week to go in the 2014 season, the club is just 37 strikeouts from tying that record set last year.

Kluber, after striking out 14 batters in his last outing on Tuesday, made it two 14-K efforts in a row in an eight-inning effort against the Twins on Sunday. In addition to the 14 punchouts, Kluber allowed two runs and picked up his 17th win in a 7-2 victory.

The right-hander is the 15th pitcher since 1914 (and third Indians hurler, counting two efforts from Sam McDowell) to have at least two straight games with 14-plus strikeouts; "at least two" is necessary, because Pedro Martinez posted three straight in 1999. That season, Martinez also had another pair of back-to-back efforts of at least 14 K's. Pedro is the only one with three in a row. The full list: McDowell (two two-game streaks in 1968), Bob Gibson ('68), Mickey Lolich ('71), Dwight Gooden ('84), Jose Rijo ('86), Roger Clemens ('88), Randy Johnson (1997, '99), Pedro Martinez (three in a row in 1999, two in a row in '99, 2000), Randy Johnson (2001, '04), Kluber (2014).

Kluber now has 10 games this season with at least 10 strikeouts. Those 10 are the most for an Indians pitcher since McDowell had 10 in 1970, and are the second most for a Tribe right-hander since 1914. In 1946, Bob Feller had 12.

Kluber's 258 strikeouts are the most for an Indians pitcher since McDowell had 304 in 1970, and the 258 rank as the fifth most for a Tribe righty. Feller had 348 in 1946, 261 in '40 and 260 in '41. In 1968, Luis Tiant racked up 264.

Perhaps overshadowed a bit by Kluber, left fielder Michael Brantley finished the day 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Brantley has a slash line of .325/.384/.506, good for a 152 OPS+. There have been five seasons in which an Indians left fielder (at least 100 games in left) qualified for the batting title and finished the year with a higher OPS+: Albert Belle in 1994 (194), Belle in '95 (177), Belle in '96 (158), Jeff Heath in '43 (155) and Gene Woodling in '57 (153). The only one of these five as young as Brantley (age-27 season) was Belle in '94.

Odds and ends
• Making his first start since July 8, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings and picked up his 13th win in the Yankees' 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays. No Yanks first-year pitcher has won at least 13 games and finished with an ERA as low as Tanaka's 2.47 since Wilcy Moore posted a 2.28 in his 19-7 season in 1927.

• Making his 22nd career appearance, right-hander Jacob deGrom fanned 10 Braves and picked up the win in the Mets' 10-2 victory. deGrom is the fourth pitcher in Mets history to have at least four double-digit strikeout games through his first 22 appearances, joining Gooden (eight), Matt Harvey (five) and Nolan Ryan (four).

deGrom -- who fanned 13 in his previous outing -- has 38 strikeouts in September. The last Mets pitcher to be in his debut season and have at least 38 punchouts in a September/October was Gooden, with 62 in 1984.

• With their 1-0 victory over the Brewers, the Pirates improved to 101-61 (.623) at home since the start of the 2013 season. Only the Cardinals, at 105-57 (.648), own a better mark.

Wade Davis fanned two in a perfect eighth inning, contributing to the 3 2/3 scoreless innings hurled by the Royals' bullpen in Kansas City's 5-2 win over the Tigers. Davis has struck out 103 of the 265 batters he has faced this season (38.87 percent). That mark would currently sit as the fifth highest for an American League pitcher with at least 60 innings. The punch line: three of the four seasons ahead of him are being authored this year.

AL history in the now: highest K%, minimum 60 innings
Pitcher Year K% IP
Andrew Miller 2014 42.55 60 2/3
Brad Boxberger 2014 42.39 64
Greg Holland 2013 40.39 67
Dellin Betances 2014 39.58 89
Wade Davis 2014 38.87 69

• Houston's Jose Altuve doubled and singled for yet another multihit game as the Astros defeated the Mariners, 8-3. Altuve's two hits gave him 220 knocks for the season. Those 220 are the most for any second baseman since the Tigers' Charlie Gehringer had 227 in 1936. Besides Gehringer, the only other AL second basemen to have at least 220 are Johnny Hodapp (225 in 1930), Eddie Collins (224 in '20) and Nap Lajoie (232 in 1901 and 227 in '10).

Altuve's 220 are the most for a player in an age-24 or younger season since Willie Wilson had 230 in his age-24 season with the Royals in 1980. There are 12 others since 1901 to have at least 220 in an age-24 or younger season, and the names are too interesting to ignore: Al Simmons (once), Freddie Lindstrom (twice), Ducky Medwick (twice), Hodapp (once), Lloyd Waner (three times), Paul Waner (once), Richie Ashburn (once), Joe Jackson (twice), Stan Musial (once), Tommy Davis (once), Tris Speaker (once) and Ty Cobb (once).

Matt Kemp homered in a four-hit, four-RBI day to lead the Dodgers to an 8-5 win over the Cubs. In 145 games this season, Kemp is carrying an OPS+ of 138 -- his highest in a season in which he's qualified for the batting title since leading the league with a 172 in 2011. Kemp owns a career mark of 128; he is one of 21 players in Dodgers history to have at least 1,000 games with the club through his first nine years. Among this collection, Kemp's 128 is the third highest OPS+, behind Duke Snider's 143 and Jackie Robinson's 134.

Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Athletics an 8-6 victory over the Phillies. Donaldson has three walk-off homers this season -- the first A's player with three in one year since Matt Stairs had three in 1999.

• The Padres defeated the Giants, 8-2, to finish off a three-game sweep in which they limited San Francisco to just four runs. San Diego claims a 2.58 ERA at Petco Park this season: a home ERA that has been matched or bettered by only seven NL teams since the Padres played their first season in 1969: the 1972 Dodgers (2.49 ERA), the '75 Dodgers (2.35), the '76 Astros (2.53), the '78 Padres (2.50), the '79 Astros (2.41), the '81 Astros (1.70) and the '88 Mets (2.33).

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.