Here's the final line of the Astros' Gerrit Cole from his Memorial Day start against the hard-hitting Cubs (HOU 6, CHC 5):
That's in essence Cole's 2019 writ small. He gave up some runs (he's now got a 4.02 ERA for the season), but he was otherwise dominant (his 112 strikeouts lead the majors by a somewhat comfortable margin). As it turns out, today's topic at this seminar at the Ramada by the airport is Cole and his strikeouts.
On Monday, he struck out 12 of the 22 batters he faced. Color-television footage forthcoming:
That bumps his 2019 K% -- i.e., strikeouts as a percentage of batters faced, which is a much more illuminating measure than the traditional K/9 -- to 39 percent for the season. That leads all qualifiers, and that's versus a league-average mark of 22.2 percent for starters. But wait, there's more!
Here, via the lovely and talented FanGraphs, are the all-time single-season leaders in K% (qualifiers only):
Pitcher, team, year
Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, 1999
Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, 2001
Chris Sale, Red Sox, 2017
Justin Verlander, Astros, 2018
Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, 2000
As you can see, if trends hold then Cole will wind up atop this list with room to spare. We're roughly a third of the way through the season, so there's of course plenty of time for Cole to fall off the pace. However, this isn't really out of character for him. Last season, for instance, Cole authored a K% of 34.5 in 200 1/3 innings, which is good for 10th on that all-time K% list.
Cole has elite velocity, command of four to five pitches, and since arriving in Houston prior to the 2017 season he's boasted elite spin rate on his fastball and curve. All that, plus the current high-strikeout era, means that Cole has a real shot at setting the all-time record in addition to topping 300 strikeouts for the first time in his career.