Will Yu Darvish Be 1st Pitcher to Top 300 Ks in a Season in over a Decade?

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Will Yu Darvish Be 1st Pitcher to Top 300 Ks in a Season in over a Decade?

The early stages of the 2013 season have been dominated by good pitching, so it would not be all that surprising to see something accomplished on the mound that has not been done in over a decade this season.

Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish became the first pitcher to 100 strikeouts this season when he fanned 14 Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday to bring his season total to 105 in 74.1 innings of work.

In the process, he became the first pitcher to reach the century mark through Memorial Day since 2002. That was also the last time someone reached the 300-strikeout mark in a season, and that is something Darvish has squarely in his sights moving forward this season.

Through his first 11 starts, Darvish is averaging 6.7 innings per start and striking out roughly 1.41 batters per inning. If he maintains that pace and stays healthy enough to make 33 starts, that would put him at roughly 312 strikeouts in 221 innings of work, so the mark is certainly obtainable.

Let's take a look at how his numbers through Memorial Day stack up to the last 10 instances of 300 strikeouts in a season.

Player (Year) Ks Thru Memorial Day Ks Per Inning Final K Total
Randy Johnson (2002) 100 K in 79 IP 1.27 334
Curt Schilling (2002) 114 K in 81 IP 1.41 316
Randy Johnson (2001) 123 K in 85.2 IP 1.44 372
Randy Johnson (2000) 121 K in 88 IP 1.38 347
Randy Johnson (1999) 118 K in 93.2 IP 1.26 364
Pedro Martinez (1999) 117 K in 80.2 IP 1.45 313
Randy Johnson (1998) 90 K in 64.1 IP 1.40 329
Curt Schilling (1998) 117 K in 85.2 IP 1.37 300
Curt Schilling (1997) 82 K in 76.1 IP 1.07 319
Pedro Martinez (1997) 68 K in 61.1 IP 1.11 305

Statistics compiled via BaseballReference.com

What this shows us, other than the fact that Randy Johnson was absolutely ridiculous during his prime, is that Darvish falls right in line and even ahead of some of these guys. With his 105 strikeouts in 74.1 innings and 1.41-strikeout-per-inning mark, he certainly stacks up to this group.

The 26-year-old Darvish struck out 221 in 191.1 innings of work last season. If his splits from 2012 are any indication, he could actually pick up the pace as the season progresses.

Will Yu Darvish Reach 300 Strikeouts in 2013?

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Whether you attribute it to him getting more comfortable in the MLB or simply improving as the weather heats up, Darvish posted his two best K/9 rates of the season last year in July (10.8) and August (12.2).

For what it's worth, he never reached the 300-strikeout mark during his time in Japan, with his closest finish coming in his final year pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters when he struck out 276 in 232 innings.

Still, he was 24 that season and it is safe to assume he has improved his overall game since then, as he enters the prime of his career.

Whether Darvish is able to end the 300-strikeout drought will be one of the better storylines to follow in the second half, provided he stays healthy. 

One thing is for sure, the $111.7 million that the Rangers invested in Darvish over six years last offseason is looking more and more like one of the better deals in franchise history.

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