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’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.

10 career wins for Tomlin

Josh Tomlin has 10 wins through his first 17 career games (all starts) – the most by a Tribe pitcher in the last 90 years.

His 10 wins in 17 games surpasses the mark previously shared by Jaret Wright and Luis Tiant. Only five others have had as many as eight wins in their fist 17 career games.

Player #Matching ▾ W L W-L% ERA GS IP ER WHIP
Josh Tomlin 17 Ind. Games 10 4 .714 3.91 17 106.0 46 1.14
Luis Tiant 17 Ind. Games 9 4 .692 3.13 14 112.0 39 1.16
Jaret Wright 17 Ind. Games 9 3 .750 4.53 17 95.1 48 1.30
Herb Score 17 Ind. Games 8 6 .571 3.08 16 120.0 41 1.41
Gene Bearden 17 Ind. Games 8 3 .727 2.79 13 100.0 31 1.34
John Farrell 17 Ind. Games 8 3 .727 3.00 16 123.0 41 1.20
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2011.

Three-pitch save

Chris Perez needed just three pitches to pick up his 6th save of the season on Wednesday night against the Royals. It was the Indians first three-pitch save since Danys Baez had one, also against the Royals, in 2002.

Baseball-reference has pitch count data back through 80s and some data here and there before that. Their Play Index turns up 21 other three-pitch saves for the Indians, but only two three-out, three-pitch saves.

The first belongs to Doug Jones, who retired needed just three pitchers to retire – who else- the Royals on May 4, 1989. However, that one is a little quirky because Jones only faced two batters. John Farrell came out to pitch the 9th, looking for a shutout, but the first two batters reached base. Jones then entered the game and induced a double-play off the bat of Jim Eisenreich and then got Danny Tartabull to ground out to short.

A very similar situation arose for Bob Wickman in 2001 against the Tigers. He entered the game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, and picked up the first out on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Dean Palmer. The next batter, Deivi Cruz, then hit into a game-ending double play.

Those are the only two three-pitch saves the Play Index turns up in which the closer faced more than one batter.