Cubs

Stephen Strasburg just tied Kerry Wood's prestigious MLB strikeout record

Stephen Strasburg just tied Kerry Wood's prestigious MLB strikeout record

Stephen Strasburg made MLB history Wednesday afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

L.A. shortstop Corey Seager became Strasburg's 1,166th career strikeout victim in the first inning Wednesday as the Nationals star hurler tied Kerry Wood for the most strikeouts in a starting pitcher's first 1,000 innings in baseball history.

It was Strasburg's 82nd strikeout of the season and he entered the day whiffing 9.8 batters per nine innings, which is actually below his career norm (10.5 K/9).

The 28-year-old right-hander has struggled to stay healthy in his career, having made 30 starts in a season just twice in his career. He notched only 47 starts in 2015-16, but struck out a whopping 338 batters in 275 innings.

Strasburg led the league with 242 strikeouts in 215 innings in 2014 for the only 200+ whiff season in his career.

Wood reached the 200-strikeout threshold in four separate seasons — as a rookie in 1998 and then again post-Tommy John surgery in three straight seasons from 2001-03. 

Wood led the majors with 266 whiffs in 211 innings in 2003, but his career as a starter was derailed from there, topping 100 strikeouts in a season just once after that point (144 Ks in 2004).

In 2007, Wood transitioned to a reliever full time and never made another start for the Cubs, Cleveland Indians or New York Yankees in the final six years of his career.

It was late in the 2004 season in which Wood notched the 1,166th strikeout in his 1,000th inning.

He finished his career with 1,582 whiffs in 1,380 innings, good for a 10.3 K/9.

In his first 1,000+ innings, Strasburg's career high is 15 strikeouts in a start, a far cry from Wood's epic 20-strikeout game in 1998. 

Of course, that may be the best pitching performance the game has ever seen:

Wood also struck out 16 batters in a start in August 1998, but never reached the 15K threshold in the rest of his career.

Anthony Rizzo is ready to be the leading man 

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo is ready to be the leading man 

When discussing his unconventional lineup choices, Joe Maddon had this to say, "It's almost a backwards way of doing this right now that I'm finding fascinating.....So I'm just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us."

And it is hard to blame Maddon for letting his experiment ride out longer.

Via our Chris Kamka, Rizzo has hit in the leadoff spot seven times this season. In those seven plate appearances he has a single, double, triple (July 21), home run, walk, hit by pitch and a groundout. Rizzo’s numbers as a leadoff hitter are staggering:

And it appears the Cubs agree.

After their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Ben Zobrist joked that Rizzo is the “self proclaimed greatest leadoff hitter...”. And while on paper, having Zobrist bat fourth in the order and Rizzo lead off seems contradictory, the move has definitely energized the offense. Immediately following all the lineup shuffling, the Cubs reeled off four straight wins before the Cardinals 18-run, 18-hit explosion, but even in that game Rizzo did draw a base by HBP.

And sure enough, in Saturday’s game, there was Rizzo, dominating to the tune of three walks and a triple. There is no telling if Maddon will continue to keep him in the leadoff spot. The move was originally made to help Rizzo get his groove back, which if Saturday’s win was any indication, he has.

But with Jason Heyward having a great offensive season, Jesse Chavez looking good in his Cubs debut (two clean innings with one strikeout) and Baez continuing his MVP-like play, Cubs fans should be as optimistic as one certain fan at Wrigley Field.

Cubs infielder Ryan Court had a special night in Iowa

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USA TODAY

Cubs infielder Ryan Court had a special night in Iowa

The farm system doesn't have the big names it once did, as the majority of the top prospects have graduated to the Major League roster, but that doesn't mean the minor league clubs aren't having fun. 

Take 29-year-old Ryan Court, a minor league infielder who has bounced around from Arizona and Boston's systems and found a home this year with the Cubs triple-A affiliate in Des Moines, IA. Court has had a solid season in Iowa, slashing .272/.347/.410 in 74 games, but might have had his finest game as I-Cub Friday night against the New Orleans Baby Cakes. 

Court came up in the 8th inning last night needing just a triple to hit for the cycle, but his club was on the verge of taking the lead in the after scoring three runs prior to his at-bat.

With Bote on 1st, the game tied at 8 runs apiece, Court placed a ball in front of the right fielder who overplayed the ball and allowed Bote to score from first and Court to scamper to third to complete the cycle. 

The I-Cubs would tack on another run to polish off a 5-run 8th inning and take home the win in a 10-8 victory over the Baby Cakes, and according to Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch, it was the first time in two decades an Iowa player has hit for the cycle. 

It's unlikely Ryan Court will make his way to the big leagues with the Cubs already carrying plenty of infielders, but for one night he played the hero and got his team the win, finishing the night 4-5 with 2 RBI, 4 runs scored and one massive smile on his face.