Most Consecutive Wins by a Pitcher to Start Career

Masahiro Tanaka is starting today for the Yankees and looks to improve on his 4-0 record to date.  I wrote a post a few weeks back about Tanaka being quoted as saying that he takes the attitude that it is not impossible for him to go undefeated in MLB as he did last year in Japan’s NPB when he went 24-0, if only to use as motivation to pitch as well as he can in every start.

It got me thinking, what is the record for consecutive wins by a pitcher to start his major league career?  It took more time than I expected to find this information on the internet, but according to Baseball Almanac, the record is 12 consecutive wins to start a career set by Hooks Wiltse in 1904 and equaled by Butch Metzger in 1974-1976.  Metzger was a relief pitcher who posted 1-0 records in each of 1974 and 1975 in limited major league action and then ran off 10 wins without being credited with a loss to start the 1976 season.

Other particularly notable winning streaks to start a major league career were Joe Pate‘s 9-0 season record in 1926 as a 34 year old rookie for the Philadelphia Athletics, Fernando Valenzuela‘s 10-0 career start for the Dodgers in 1980-1981, and Whitey Ford‘s 9-0 start for the 1950 Yankees.

Pate was a great star in the Texas League earlier in the 1920’s, and he never won another major league game after the 1926 season.  He won 257 minor league games in his career, however.

Valenzuela got off to one of the hottest and most heralded rookie starts in major league history in 1981, when he started the season with eight consecutive complete game victories in which he threw five shutouts and allowed a total of only four runs to score against him.

As you might notice, starting one’s career with nine or more consecutive wins is no guarantee of future major league success.  Aside from Pate, Metzger won only six more major league games after his 12-0 start.  Both Pate and Metzger were relief pitchers who were more lucky than good in winning their early decisions.

I would think there are a one or two other pitchers who won at least nine in a row to start their major league careers, but I wasn’t able to find anyone else.  However, Boo Ferriss did start his career 8-0 for the 1945 Red Sox and then ran off a 12-game winning streak in 1946, for what it’s worth.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants

2 Comments on “Most Consecutive Wins by a Pitcher to Start Career”

    • Burly Says:

      Baseball Reference does not presently contain game logs before the 1914 season, so its data search will not turn up players who might have had long streaks before 1914. In fact, the link provided above identifies only one player (presumably Butch Metzger) as having won 12 consecutive decisions to start a career, when, in fact, two players have apparently done it, with Wiltse doing it first in 1904.


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