It wasn't a vintage Kevin Gausman performance by any stretch of the imagination, and he'd probably be the first to tell you that, but last night, Toronto's ace joined elite company in the Blue Jays record books.
Scattering seven hits and three runs, Gausman only managed to get through five innings, using 99 pitches to do so, against the pesky bats of the Washington Nationals. It was a far cry from some of the gems he has thrown this season. He collected seven strikeouts, however, helping the Jays keep pace in the Wild Card race with a 6-3 win.
In the fourth inning, with his fifth strikeout of the evening, the lanky right-hander added his name to an impressive and short list of Blue Jays pitchers to post consecutive 200-strikeout seasons. With 202 punchouts on the year, Gausman joins pitching legend Rogers Clemens and the late, great Roy Halladay as the only other Toronto pitchers with back-to-back 200-strikeout campaigns.
Clemens, one of the premier strikeout pitchers in the history of the game, reached the 200 strikeout milestone 12 times over his career, including his two seasons in a Blue Jays uniform. He logged 292 in 1997 and 271 in 1998, both of which were Cy Young-winning seasons for the fireballer.
Halladay accomplished the feat thrice during his Blue Jays tenure. Arguably the best pitcher in franchise history, "Doc" recorded 204 strikeouts during his 2003 Cy Young season. He repeated the feat with 206 in 2008 and 208 in 2009 before reaching the mark twice more with the Phillies.
Gausman having (another) stellar season for the Blue Jays
Gausman has been spectacular in his two seasons in Toronto. He recorded 205 strikeouts over 174 2/3 innings in 2022 and will easily blow past that mark this season, logging his 202 strikeouts in only 155 1/3 innings so far. He's only 25 strikeouts away from matching his career-high of 227, set in 2021, his final season in San Francisco.
The 32-year-old is the first pitcher in the American League to reach the 200-strikeout plateau, edging out Minnesota's Pablo Lopez, who currently sits at 191. Across the majors, Gausman trails only Spencer Strider, Atlanta's strikeout machine, who has recorded 236 punchouts on the year.
With the Blue Jays trying to stay in the Wild Card mix, Gausman has done everything in his power to help pull the team to the finish line. Hopefully, the bats can continue to provide him with some run support, as they did on Monday, and take full advantage of the quality starts Gausman has left in the tank.