Clayton Kershaw reached 200 victories this past week — a reminder of both the left-hander’s excellence and the near-impossibility of a pitcher reaching 300 wins nowadays.
The active leader in victories is Justin Verlander with 244, and he’s 40 years old. Only four active pitchers even have 200 wins — Verlander, Zack Greinke (223), Max Scherzer (203) and Kershaw, who made it to 201 by the end of the week. Adam Wainwright is at 195 and could join that group, but he hasn’t pitched yet this year because of a groin injury.
The 35-year-old Kershaw is pitching on a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but if he keeps going into 2024, he could reach 3,000 strikeouts. He’s 161 shy of that mark.
And if 300 wins is increasingly out of the question, given current patterns of starting pitcher workloads, 300 quality starts is still a possibility for today’s stars. Verlander (327) and Greinke (317) have already surpassed that mark amid little fanfare. Kershaw is at 287.
Of the 24 pitchers with 300 wins, which one had the fewest losses?
The Texas Rangers spent lavishly the past couple offseasons to acquire Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jacob deGrom. They lost 94 games last year, but 2023 has been a different story so far.
Texas is 14-7 and has the second-best run differential in the major leagues behind Tampa Bay. Seager is out with a hamstring injury, but has hit .359 when he has played. And Semien is batting around .300.
Perhaps most importantly, the same five pitchers — deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez — have started every game so far. That’s a good sign, given the injury problems those players have endured in the past.
All five teams in the AL East have winning records, and they’ve been impressive when playing outside the division. Tampa Bay is 14-1 against non-AL East opponents and Baltimore is 12-3.
As a whole, the AL East is 55-23 against other divisions, and that’s something to keep in mind with this year’s more balanced schedule.
At the other end of the spectrum, the AL Central is 33-57 against other divisions and has only one team (Minnesota) above .500.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is back from his drug suspension and hit his first homer of the season Saturday night. San Diego could use its 24-year-old star. The Padres are just 12-12 this year.
Even after that slow start, San Diego is only a half-game out of first place in the NL West, but the Padres are hitting a National League-worst .216. Juan Soto is batting .198 and Manny Machado is at .220.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Adolis García hit three home runs and two doubles in Texas’ 18-3 victory over Oakland on Saturday night. García had eight RBIs, and his 16 total bases were the most in a major league game since Alex Dickerson of San Francisco also had three homers and two doubles in 2020.
COMEBACK OF THE WEEK
The Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels 11-8 in a wild game Saturday night. The Angels trailed 6-4 before scoring two runs in the sixth and then two more in the eighth. After falling behind 8-6, Kansas City’s win probability was at 6.8%, according to Baseball Savant.
In the ninth, however, Kyle Isbel doubled home a run and then scored on Edward Olivares’ tying single. The Royals went ahead 9-8 when MJ Melendez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and then Hunter Dozier capped the five-run inning with a two-run single.
Lefty Grove, who was 300-141 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox.
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