Lefty power on the mound and at the plate may lead to several MLB milestones

By: Ely Sussman

Last Updated:

Every week throughout the 2017 regular season, we’ll handpick impressive, embarrassing and peculiar feats for you to witness across Major League Baseball. The following MLB milestones could be achieved from May 29-June 4, so adjust your viewing schedule accordingly. All stats current entering games of May 29.

CC Sabathia (New York Yankees): fourth place among left-handers on all-time strikeout list

When it could happen: June 1 (vs. Toronto Blue Jays)

It takes gobs of luck, ability and consistency to rack up this kind of total in an era when the role of starting pitchers is rapidly diminishing. Sabathia latched on to the Cleveland Indians active roster in 2001 and has posted qualified seasons in 15 of 16 summers since then (comfortably on pace to make that 16 of 17). He recorded nine strikeouts on Saturday, the 237th straight appearance that he’s punched out at least one batter. Only Justin Verlander (325 in a row) owns a longer active streak among pitchers who have been continuously employed in the American League. Lefty legends Randy Johnson (4,875 SO) and Steve Carlton (4,136 SO) are lightyears away from Sabathia, but he can leapfrog Frank Tanana with two more strikeouts on Thursday, then aim to take Mickey Lolich‘s No. 3 spot after the All-Star break.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers): 2,000 career strikeouts

When it could happen: June 2 (vs. Milwaukee Brewers)

Sabathia has enough gas in the tank to continue pitching beyond this season, but he surely accepts the inevitable: fellow southpaw Clayton Kershaw will someday surpass him in career K’s. Who’s to say Kershaw won’t sit atop every career leaderboard by the time he calls it quits? He is certainly on a blistering pace so far. Kershaw prepares for his next start four strikeouts away from 2,000, on the verge of becoming just the ninth pitcher ever to reach the milestone before his 30th birthday. It’s worth noting that Kershaw has recorded at least four punch-outs in 88 consecutive starts, and Milwaukee’s Miller Park has a roof in case of inclement weather. So I can essentially guarantee that, sunshine or snow, we’ll witness No. 2,000 on Friday.

Curtis Granderson (New York Mets): 300 career home runs

When it could happen: any game this week

Granderson has homered only four times all season, but his bat is catching fire after a miserable month of April (.263/.360/.526, 3 HR since then). He enters this week three long balls shy of 300. It helps that the Mets are scheduled to play three times during the day—lifetime .265/.357/.491, 19.4 AB/HR in day games versus .248/.330/.462, 22.1 AB/HR at night—and that he’s expected to continue starting regularly with Yoenis Cespedes experiencing a setback in his rehab from a quad injury. Although Granderson rarely bats in the leadoff spot anymore, that is where he has spent the majority of his career. The 36-year-old would join Bobby Bonds as the only players to ever eclipse 300 home runs while taking greater than 50 percent of their plate appearances atop the lineup.

Chris Davis (Baltimore Orioles): most strikeouts in a single month

When it could happen: May 29-31 (vs. New York Yankees)

First up, Davis is aiming to set a career high in this department. He whiffed 47 times during August 2015 (while somehow batting .257/.361/.581 with 10 HR). Should he “achieve” that, Javier Baez set the MLB record with 49 in August 2014. Already at 41 strikeouts this May, Davis closes out the month against the Yankees pitching staff, who ranks fourth in the American League in strikeout percentage. Any O’s fans who aren’t too thrilled with his performance, take comfort in the fact that he’s only under contract through 2022!

Bartolo Colon (Atlanta Braves): career wins leader in interleague play

When it could happen: May 30 (vs. Los Angeles Angels)

Every week, I try my darnedest to dig up a notable Colon milestone. There’s a heightened sense of urgency because he could (finally) be coming to the end of the road. Any way you want to quantify it, Big Sexy has been one of the very worst qualified starters in the majors this season, and 44-year-olds struggling on expiring contracts generally don’t get a long leash to steady themselves. If Colon can turn back the clock on Tuesday against a thin Angels lineup—Mike Trout (left thumb sprain) might be out!—and hand off a lead to the steady Braves bullpen, he’ll pull even with Mark Buehrle at 30 career interleague victories.

Pending MLB milestones featured in previous weeks

Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers): heaviest pitcher to record 200 career saves

Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels): 600 career home runs

Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers): 1,000 career extra-base hits

Devon Travis (Toronto Blue Jays): most doubles in a single month

Craig Kimbrel (Boston Red Sox): most saves through first eight seasons

Featured Image: 2017 Topps Heritage