Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka Begins Career with 12-Game Streak of Quality Starts

Bleacher Report MilestonesB/R StaffJune 5, 2014

New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka, of Japan, delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Saturday, May 31, 2014, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has opened his career with 12 consecutive quality starts, the second longest such streak since 1912, per ESPN Stats & Info. The record holder, Steve Rogers, began his career with 16 straight quality starts in 1973 as a member of the Montreal Expos.

The 25-year-old Japanese rookie already has established himself as one of the three or four best pitchers in all of baseball, allowing just 19 earned runs in his first dozen starts for a pristine 2.02 ERA. He leads all American League starters in ERA and WHIP (0.96) while ranking fourth in strikeouts (92) and second in wins (nine).

Tanaka picked up win No. 9 in Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Oakland A's, despite turning in an underwhelming performance by his own ridiculous standards. The right-hander held a powerful Oakland lineup to one run over six innings, but his four strikeouts were a career-low, while the six frames matched a career-worst mark set in a May 20 outing against the Chicago Cubs.

As fantastic as Tanaka has been, he still needs four more quality starts to match Rogers, who posted a 1.54 ERA and 10-5 record during his rookie season of 1973. The former Expo fell short of a quality start just once in 17 outings that year, as he tossed 5.1 innings in the final nod. Rogers went on to have an excellent career, earning five selections to the All-Star Game before ultimately retiring in 1985 with a 158-152 record and 3.17 ERA.

Tanaka is a lock to make the All-Star Game this season and currently is the favorite to start for the American League. His stiffest competition for the honor is countryman Yu Darvish, owner of a 5-2 record and 2.08 ERA through 10 starts.