Lincecum Could Hit 300 Strikeouts

A nice heads-up from Yahoo's Big League Stew blog points out that Tim Arizona's stats this year may be freaky-historic. At the rate he's going, it's entirely possible that the Giants' Cy Young Award-winning could throw 300 strikeouts this season.

That magical 300-strikeout milestone hasn't been reached by a Major League pitcher since Randy Johnson (Hey-O!) and Curt Schilling both threw more than 300 K's for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002. "Since then the number has not been approached," wrote the New York Times prior to the 2007 season, "and it appears there is no one on the horizon that is likely to change that."

New York Times, you might want to notify your Corrections department that his name is Timothy Leroy Lincecum. 

Big League Stew blogger Tim Kaduk points out that Lincecum currently has 191 strikeouts, for an average of 8.68 per start. Those 191 strikeouts are the most of any MLB pitcher this season by a substantial margin. Linny likely has at least 11 starts remaining if he stays healthy. At that rate, he'll finish the season shy of the milestone with 286 strikeouts -- but still even better than the league-leading 265 strikeouts the little fellow threw last season.

But if Linny has one or two more of those 15 strikeout games left in him this year, that supposedly-impossible 300-strikeout milestone could be his.

No San Francisco Giants pitcher has ever thrown 300 strikeouts in a single season. The only 300-strikeout pitchers this franchise has ever seen played when the team was still in New York. According to Baseball Almanac, the only 300-strikeout pitchers the Giants have ever had were Tim Keefe (in 1886) Amos Rusie (in 1892). That's going back quite a ways.

Since the Giants became the San Francisco Giants in 1958, the most strikeouts any Giants pitcher has ever thrown was, well, 265 by Tim Lincecum in 2008. Prior to Linceum's run last season, the most strikeouts a San Francisco Giants pitcher had ever thrown was Jason Schmidt throwing 251 in 2004.

Another consideration is that manager Bruce Bochy could fiddle with the starting rotation to keep pace in the NL wild card race, and in doing so may have Lincecum and Matt Cain pitch more frequently. But Lincecum could hit 300 strikeouts just by pitching more "freak"-wently.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is dodging tomatoes and lettuce heads because of that last joke. 

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