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Major League Baseball's 10 Most Insane Pitching Streaks

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2017

Major League Baseball's 10 Most Insane Pitching Streaks

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    This past Tuesday night at Fenway Park, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander went six innings, and gave up five runs on 10 hits to take the loss the Red Sox.

    With that performance, however, Verlander registered his 53rd consecutive start with at least six innings pitched. He and Hall of Fame great Bob Gibson are now tied for fifth place on the all-time list.

    In today's day and age, with pitch counts and relief specialists, starters oftentimes don't consistently pitch into the later innings, making Verlander's current streak even more impressive.

    With that in mind, there have been some other streaks by MLB pitchers that are remarkable in nature, and we at Bleacher Report will revisit some of those streaks right now.

10. Most Consecutive Wins: Carl Hubbell (24)

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    If any streak on this list has a chance of being matched or bettered, it would be this one.

    On July 18, 1936, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell won the game and then kept on winning, closing out the season with 16 straight victories.

    He didn't stop there, however. Hubbell went on to win his first eight games in 1937. He finally lost on May 31 to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

    Hubbell's 24-game winning streak has stood the test of time so far; but unlike many of the other records or streaks on this list, it could conceivably be matched or broken eventually.

9. Consecutive Starts with 6-Plus Innings Pitched: Bob Gibson (78)

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    As mentioned in our introductory slide, Justin Verlander's six-inning effort on Tuesday night gave him 53 in a row, but his streak still falls far short of the record here.

    On Sept. 12, 1967, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson began a streak of pitching at least six innings in every start that lasted until May 2, 1970, for a span of 78 starts in total.

    Verlander would likely have to push his current streak into the beginning of next season in order to tie or break Gibson's record. Still, it is possible, as long as Verlander stays healthy and avoids big innings.

8. Consecutive Quality Starts: Bob Gibson (26)

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    For a pitcher to register a quality start, he has to pitch at least six innings, and allow three earned runs or less.

    St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson is the current standard-bearer with 26 consecutive quality starts. Gibson started the streak on the same day he started his consecutive six innings-plus streak—Sept. 12, 1967 — and didn't end this streak until July 30, 1968.

7. Consecutive Saves Converted: Eric Gagne (84)

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    To say that former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne was positively nasty in the early 2000s doesn't even come close to doing him justice.

    In fact, Gagne was so nasty, that from Aug. 28, 2002 through July 5, 2004 he converted 84 consecutive save opportunities.

    To put that into perspective, one pitcher who came close to Gagne's record is Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde, who saved a still impressive 49 consecutive games in 2011 before promptly blowing a save in early 2012.

6. Consecutive Shutouts: Don Drysdale (6)

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    In 1968, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Don Drysdale went through a four-week stretch during which every pitch he threw was literally untouchable—and his current record reflects that.

    From May 14 through June 4, 1968, Drysdale threw six consecutive shutouts (and for the record, the phrase "complete game shutout" is redundant), a streak that temporarily gave him the record for consecutive scoreless innings (58) as well.

    To put that record into perspective, last season Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee led the majors in shutouts with six—for the entire season.

5. Consecutive Scoreless Innings: Orel Hershiser (59)

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    If playoffs were included, this record would actually be 67, but for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser, 59 was still a magic number.

    That number represents the number of consecutive scoreless innings turned in by Hershiser from Aug. 30 through Sept, 28, 1988.

    Hershiser threw another eight scoreless innings in Game 1 of the '88 NLCS against the New York Mets just for good measure, showing that even under pressure he could fire goose eggs.

4. Consecutive Innings Pitched Without Allowing a Home Run: Greg Minton (269.1)

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    During his 16-year career in the majors, Greg Minton was a reliable reliever for both the San Francisco Giants and California Angels, notching 150 career saves with a lifetime ERA of 3.10.

    However, for one three-year stretch, Minton refused to throw a gopher ball.

    While pitching for the Giants, Minton did not allow a single home run between June 1, 1979 and May 1, 1982, for an impressive span of 269.1 consecutive innings.

3. Consecutive Seasons with 300-Plus Strikeouts: Randy Johnson (5)

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    From 1998 until 2002, starting pitcher Randy Johnson played for three different teams (Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks) while striking out an incredible 1,746 batters.

    In fact, for five consecutive years, Johnson struck out 300 or more batters each season.

    To put that record into perspective, no one has topped the 300 K mark since Johnson last did it in 2002, while playing with the Diamondbacks.

    Even the all-time strikeout king, Nolan Ryan, notched only three seasons in a row and five out of six years between 1972 and 1977.

2. Consecutive Seasons with 20 or More Wins: Christy Mathewson (12)

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    In today's day and age, a 20 win season has become all too rare. Between five-man rotations and relief specialists, a pitcher will only get to start an average of 32-33 games per season.

    Which makes Christy Mathewson's mark of 12 straight seasons of 20-plus wins even that much more unbreakable.

    Mathewson achieved his record streak between the years of 1903 and 1914, a period that included four seasons in which he earned 30 or more wins each.

1. Consecutive Complete Games: Jack Taylor (39)

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    This record is so completely ridiculous that it absolutely stands on its own.

    From April 15 through October 6 of 1904, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Taylor threw 39 consecutive complete games.

    To put that record into perspective, last season Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields registered 11 complete games—again, for an entire season.

    Shields now has the nickname "Complete Game Shields." Sorry, but I think Taylor deserves that one.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

     

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