- Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes
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In Major League Baseball annals, 13 pitchers have reached 3,000 strikeouts, more than 100 have won 200 games or more, and countless others have finished their careers with an ERA below 3.00.
But among the thousands of pitchers that have toed the mound on major league fields in the last 130 years, only three have finished their careers with all three milestones on their résumés. Pedro Martinez will soon become the fourth.
Martinez will face the Phillies tonight in Philadelphia, just 15 strikeouts short of 3,000. He reached 200 victories in April.
"Until now I really hadn't paid much attention to individual milestones, but when I do get to 3,000 strikeouts, it will be something special," the New York Mets right-hander
told ESPNdeportes.com. "I'm going to try not to throw the ball in the stands."
The three-time Cy Young Award winner, who is 9-4 this season with a 3.42 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 19 starts, probably would have reached the 3,000-strikeout mark earlier if he hadn't missed a month because of a hip injury.
"With the three starts I've had since coming off the DL, I feel strong and completely healed," he said.
Not even greats like Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton or Warren Spahn were able to accomplish what Martinez is about to achieve. Martinez, who has a lifetime mark of 206-88 with a 2.75 ERA in 15 big league seasons, is trying to join Hall of Fame right-handers Tom Seaver, Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson as the only hurlers with 200 victories, 3,000 strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Seaver, certainly in the mix when debating the best pitchers of all time, won 311 games, struck out 3,640 and finished his career with a 2.86 ERA.
Gibson finished his brilliant career with 251 wins, 3,117 K's and a 2.91 ERA.
Johnson, who pitched for the Washington Senators for 21 seasons, won 417 games, struck out 3,509 and had a 2.17 ERA.
The Dodgers' Greg Maddux began 2006 with a 3.01 career ERA, but has seen it rise to 3.06 this season. Maddux has 328 victories and 3,142 strikeouts.
Boston's Curt Schilling also reached 200 victories this year, and is currently 19 strikeouts away from 3,000, but in 19 seasons he has an ERA of 3.43.
If Martinez is proud of anything, it's his .701 career winning percentage.
"That reflects how effective you've been at helping your team win, and mine says a lot about my career," Martinez said.
Martinez is the only major league pitcher with a .700 winning percentage and 1,000 innings pitched.
"I was looking at some of my numbers recently, and noticed that I could lose a hundred straight decisions and still finish my career over .500," he said.
But the bigger question is not whether he'll lose 100 straight games, but whether he'll end up even getting to 100 losses before he hangs it up.
"I still have two more years with the Mets, and my plan is to finish my contract at the top of my game, but you never know. Only God guides our destiny."
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.
2dKevin Van Valkenburg