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Mike Fiers’ strikeout rate on historic pace

May 13, 2015

Mike Fiers is striking out batters at a historic rate for the Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s still May, so there’s little doubt his numbers will regress, but his 12.25 strikeouts per nine innings ranks highest among qualified pitchers in franchise history. Next on the list is Zack Greinke at 10.54 K/9 in 2011, and Ben Sheets at 10.03 in 2004 is the only other pitcher above 10.

Former ace Yovani Gallardo’s seasons from 2009 to 2012 rank fourth through seventh, while Jimmy Nelson’s 8.75 mark entering Wednesday’s game was eighth. Expanding out further, Fiers numbers are even more impressive.

He leads the National League and ranks second in MLB behind Cleveland Indians starter Danny Salazar’s 13.09 mark. At his current rate, Fiers would be eighth all-time in MLB, amid five outstanding seasons from Randy Johnson, who also holds the top mark at 13.41 K/9 in 2001. Other names in the top 10 include Kerry Wood and Pedro Martinez. Not bad company to keep.

Unfortunately for Fiers, his other numbers haven’t translated quite as well.

His 3.75 BB/9 is among the 10 highest in the NL, the 1.50 HR/9 rate is in the top 15, and opponents’ batting average on balls in play against Fiers is second-highest in the NL at .383. When Fiers isn’t missing bats, he’s getting in trouble by putting runners on base and compounding that with bad luck on balls in play. This is somewhat reflected in the difference between his 5.00 ERA, 3.94 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. With fielding out of the equation and a normalized home run rate, his numbers improve significantly.

Fiers is unlikely to finish the season above 12 K/9, something that’s been done only nine times in MLB history. Having entered the season with a career rate of 9.17, he may not even join Greinke and Sheets above the 10.0 mark.

Still, Fiers’ remarkable strikeout rate is something to keep an eye on as the season plays out.

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