I was at the Tribe game last night when they posted on the scoreboard that Josh Tomlin set a modern-era record by going “at least 5 innings in each of his first 29 career starts.”
That’s almost correct, but not quite.
Technically, there have been six other pitchers since 1919 (the baseball-reference era) to go at least five innings in each of their first 29 starts – including John Farrell who did so in 37 straight for the Tribe in 1987 and ’88. However, each of those pitchers made at least once relief appearance between starts (Farrell’s career started in relief).
Tomlin holds the record for most consecutive appearances of at least five innings.
It’s an impressive streak, but also sort of a fluky one. How many pitchers actually start each of their first 29 career games?
I don’t exactly know how to answer that question, but just look at some former long-time Indians as examples:
- Charles Nagy started over 200 consecutive games for the Indians, a streak which began in his rookie year. However, he did make one relief appearance as a rookie in 1990.
- Bartolo Colon started all but two games in his Indians career, but both his relief appearances came as a rookie.
- CC Sabathia, like Tomlin, is a rare exception to the rule. Amazingly, Sabathia has never made a relief appearance in his 11 seasons in the big leagues.