The Dodgers will battle the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park, and the series opener is exactly what both teams would want for Game 1 of a playoff series, with Clayton Kershaw matching up against Gerrit Cole on the mound. Kershaw is closing in on 200 strikeouts, which would be a milestone for multiple reasons.
Kershaw leads the majors with 192 strikeouts in his 21 starts this season. He's averaging 9.14 strikeouts per start in 2015, and has reached eight strikeouts 15 times in 21 starts so it's not presumptuous to imagine he might hit the 200-K mark at some point on Friday night.
It would be the 50th 200-strikeout season in Dodgers history.
When Kershaw reaches his 200th strikeout, he will join Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale for the most 200-strikeouts seasons in Dodgers franchise history, with six. It would be six straight years for Kershaw, something done only by Koufax in Dodgers lore.
But the speed at which Kershaw is approaching 200 strikeouts is borderline unprecedented. In terms of dates, only Koufax among Dodgers has reached 200 strikeouts sooner (reaching 200 strikeouts at July 8, 1962, July 16, 1965, July 27, 1966 and Aug. 7, 1963), but he used to pitch a million innings per year.
By team game, Koufax reached 200 strikeouts in the Dodgers 89th game in 1962, Game 91 in 1965, and Game 98 in 1966.
The fastest Dodgers pitcher to 200 strikeouts by innings pitched is Hideo Nomo, who had 156 innings at the time of his 200th strikeout in 1995.
By batters faced, no Dodger was faster than Kershaw in 2014, with 625 batters faced.
So far in 2015, Kershaw has 192 strikeouts in 148 innings and 572 batters faced. Friday night is the Dodgers' 109th game of the season.
Pirates batters this season have struck out 857 times, fourth most in the National League.
Time: 4:05 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, ESPN