Clarifying the Josh Tomlin record

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.

Tomlin ties MLB record

Josh Tomlin allowed two runs in seven innings of work on Tuesday night.

By going seven innings, Tomlin extended his streak of five-inning outings to 28 – tying Daisuke Matsuzaka for the longest streak to begin a career in MLB history.

Tomlin eclipsed the Indians team record long ago, which was 12, originally set by Steve Dunning in 1970.

It’s sort of an odd record, because it requires a pitcher to have made each of his first 28 appearances as a starter – which is rare. John Farrell, for example, holds the Tribe record for most consecutive five-inning starts to begin a career with 37. However, his debut came in a relief appearance, thus eliminating any chance he had of setting this particular record.

Don’t think this isn’t an impressive streak though. Over the past 20 seasons only four other Indians pitchers have made 28 consecutive starts without being knocked out before the 5th inning. The team record in that category is, of course, held by Bob Feller (76). And in the baseball-reference era, only 14 different Tribe pitchers have put together a longer streak than Tomlin.

Tomlin’s 6-inning start streak ends

Things have been going downhill for Josh Tomlin for the past two weeks, but it wasn’t until Sunday that his streak of six-inning starts came to a halt.

Prior to his start against the Yankees Tomlin had gone at least six innings in each of his 12 starts – the longest streak to open a season since Greg Swindell in 1988. Over the past 50 seasons, only four different pitchers had opened the season with a streak longer than Tomlin’s.

But now Tomlin has another streak to worry about.

In each of his last three starts he’s allowed six earned runs – the Tribe’s longest streak since Cliff Lee in August, 2007.

No Indians pitcher has allowed six earned runs in four consecutive games since Wes Ferrell in 1933.

One Tomlin streak gets snapped

Josh Tomlin was finally roughed up a little bit, allowing four runs in the 2nd inning – more than he had allowed in any game this season. That inning alone snapped his quality start streak at nine.

Over the past 20 seasons only three former Cy Young winners have posted a streak as long as Tomlin’s while in a Tribe uniform. And in the baseball-reference era (since 1919) no Indian has ever started the season with a streak longer than nine games.

Tomlin did extend another streak however. In each of Tomlin’s 22 career starts he has pitched at least five innings – a streak which, since 1919, has been matched by only Daisuke Matsuzaka and Steve Rogers. Matsuzaka holds the MLB record at 28.

Pronk on RBI tear

The reincarnation of Travis Hafner has driven in at least two runs in each of his last three games – the fourth such streak of his career and his first since since 2006.

Hafner is the 7th Tribesman in the past 50 years with at least four three-game multi-RBI streaks, but still well behind Manny Ramirez‘s record of 14.

Hafner’s six-game streak in 2005 is tied with Juan Gonzalez (2001) and Andre Thornton (1985) for the longest in team history.

Tomlin comfortable in Cleveland

While glancing at Josh Tomlin‘s career game log I noticed that he has yet to allow more than three runs (earned or unearned) in any of his 10 starts in Jacobs Field. That seemed like an impressive streak, so I checked it out on baseball-reference.

As it turns out, that’s not only the longest streak to being a career, but also the longest streak ever at The Jake. In his last home start he broke the record previously shared by CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee.

Tomlin’s streak is also the longest by any Indian (at League Park, The Stadium or The Jake) to begin their career in the baseball-reference era (since 1919). The previous record was seven, set by Mike Garcia in 1949.

The last Tribe pitcher with a longer streak at home – to being career or otherwise – was Gaylord Perry, who had an 11-game streak that spanned the 1973 and ’74 seasons.

Tomlin’s next home start will likely come on Saturday against the Reds.

Rays snap Masterson’s streak

The Rays finally got to Justin Masterson on Thursday, the first team to rough him up for more than three runs and the first to hand him a defeat.

His impressive start to the season ranks among the best in team history, trailing only Cliff Lee (2004) for the most consecutive starts without a loss while allowing three or fewer runs.

I included Satchel Paige on the list to the right even though he doesn’t quite fall into the same category as Masterson, but his performance was every bit as impressive and unexpected. Paige’s streak spanned the first seven starts of his career, but was broken up by relief appearances in between.