Clayton Kershaw passes 2,000 career strikeouts and he's nowhere near done

Clayton Kershaw added yet another milestone to his storied career on Friday, becoming the second or third-fastest pitcher in MLB history to notch 2,000 strikeouts, depending on which stat you prefer.

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace reached the milestone in 277 games. Only Randy Johnson (262 games) got there faster in terms of games pitched. In terms of innings pitched, Kershaw is the third fastest to 2,000 behind Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

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The dominant left-hander finished with 14 strikeouts in a seven-inning no-decision against the Brewers on Friday. He allowed just a solo home run to Domingo Santana, and at one point retired 20 straight batters. He came in needing four strikeouts to reach the milestone and wasted no time getting there, setting down four Brewers in the first two innings. Jonathan Villar was his 2,000th victim.

Once Kershaw left, the Dodgers bullpen continued mowing down batters. The Dodgers combined 26 strikeouts over 12 innings set a franchise record, and closer Kenley Jansen set a major-league record with his 36th strikeout to begin the season without allowing a walk. The teams combined 42 strikeouts were the most ever in a National League game.

The Dodgers ended up winning the game 2-1 on Cody Bellinger’s 12th-inning home run.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw reached an impressive milestone Friday night, recording his 2,000th career strikeout. (AP)

Clayton Kershaw is the 78th pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeouts, so it’s not exactly an exclusive list. Ryan Dempster, Dan Haren and Andy Benes are among the pitchers he will pass in his next 100 strikeouts. But it’s still a notable achievement, especially considering Kershaw is still just 29 years old.

Kershaw is the fourth pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeouts in a Dodgers uniform. Don Sutton (2,696), Don Drysdale (2,486) and Sandy Koufax (2,396) all cemented their Hall of Fame legacies in part because of their impressive strikeout totals. Though by the time Kershaw is done, it’s likely he’ll have passed them all on his way to his own Hall of Fame induction.

Perhaps the biggest question now is just how high can Kershaw possibly get on the all-time list?

Only 16 pitchers have reached 3,000 career strikeouts. That’s the company Kershaw will aim to join next, and there’s very little doubt he’ll get there so long as he stays healthy.

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Kershaw also seems like a legit threat to reach the top ten on the list. Greg Maddux currently occupies that spot with 3,371 for his Hall of Fame career.

And who knows, maybe 4,000 is even a possibility. Only four pitchers belong to that club, but Kershaw will be well beyond the halfway mark before turning 30 next March.

One thing that remains extremely unlikely is that Kershaw — or anyone else for that matter — will reach the all-time leader Nolan Ryan, who retired with 5,714 strikeouts. In terms of unbreakable records, that one is near the top of the list. But Kershaw is well on his way to establishing a legacy that will rank among the very best.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!