While a number of things have not gone as hoped for the Cleveland Indians this season, one thing that has been a strength of the team all year is the pitching staff's strikeout rate. To date, Tribe pitchers have combined for 1,126 strikeouts in 2015, the highest total in MLB. Because not every season include the same number of games or same number of innings, in comparing strikeouts across eras, strikeout rates are a better way of doing it.
The Indians are currently averaging 9.02 strikeouts per 9 innings. No team has ever averaged more than a K per inning. The current record is a K/9 of 8.89, set by... last year's Indians!
Another way to look at it is the percentage of all batters faced that a pitcher, rotation, or staff strikes out. The Indians are currently at 24.3%, ahead of the all-time record held by the 2014 Rays, who struck out 23.4%.
Either way you slice it, this year's staff is on pace to become the new leader.
While the entire staff is doing well, it's the starting rotation that's really leading the way. The collective K/9 for al Tribe starters this season is 9.06, and the K% is 24.6%, both of which would be new records for a rotation.
Corey Kluber leads Tribe starters with a 27.8% strikeout rate. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are right behind him, each at 27.7%. That trio ranks 5th, 6th, and 7th among all qualified MLB starters. Looking at K/9, Salazar is slightly ahead on the team, at 10.10, with Kluber at 9.86 and Carrasco at 9.85. Again, they rank 5th, 6th, and 7th in MLB. No team has ever had three qualified starters average even 9 strikeouts per 9 innings, while this season's Indians are close to having three who each average 10.
Trevor Bauer has fallen behind that trio, but is still averaging 8.78 strikeouts per 9 innings, and no team has ever had four pitchers above 8.00.
The only pitcher in Indians history to ever post a K% as high as Kluber, Carrasco, and Salazar all have this season is Sam McDowell. His two highest seasons, Kluber's 2014, and this year's trio, those will be the six highest in franchise history if the current pace continues.
This isn't the first time most of this has been mentioned here, and it won't be the last. As we approach the final month of the season, we're trying to figure out what all to keep our eyes on. The pitching staff's strikeouts are certainly among those things.