ST PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 03: Pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on May 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes has a really good chance of tying a record that no pitcher wants to approach, let alone tie (or break): Most Consecutive Starts Without a Win. But as Tyler Kepner writes in the Times, Reyes seems to have taken the prospect in stride:
"When you mature, you realize what's most important: giving your team a chance to win, saving the bullpen and putting up a quality start," Reyes said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. "As long as I give the team a chance to win, that's all you can ask for as a starting pitcher."
Reyes, 26, leaned back in his chair in the visiting clubhouse as he spoke, with an easy smile and the satisfied - some would say enlightened - mind-set of the modern major league starter. The fact that he has not won in his last 27 starts is not consuming him.
I would say enlightened, and it's heartening to learn that Reyes isn't consumed by his failure to win. That wouldn't help him win. Or live with himself.
According to Kepner, if Reyes doesn't beat the Yankees Wednesday afternoon he'll tie the record for consecutive winless starts: both Cliff Curtis (1911-1912) and Matt Keough (1978-1979) went 28 straight.
The good news: Keough bounced back, under the tutelage of Billy Martin, with 16 wins and a 2.92 ERA in 1980. Of course he fell apart soon afterward, like most of Martin's Oakland pitchers, and led the American League with 18 losses in 1982. But he'll always have 1980, and one excellent (if losing) effort against the Yankees in the 1981 American League Championship Series.
The bad news: After 1911, Cliff Curtis went 14-21 before heading back the minors (where he went 5-18 one season).
If you were following baseball in the 1990s, when you think of losing you can't help thinking about poor Anthony Young, who went 27 straight starts without winning and lost 27 straight decisions (including both starts and relief outings), the latter of which is (of course) the all-time record.
In Reyes' last 27 starts, he's 0-12 with a 5.66 ERA, and only eight quality starts. So while he's obviously been seriously unlucky, it's not like he's deserved to win a bunch of games.
Reyes has been unlucky this season with the Blue Jays. He's struck out nearly three times more batters than he's walked, and given up only three home runs in 50 innings. He's got a 4.07 ERA, and three of those eight quality starts have come this season.
Most of Reyes' streak came in 2008 and '9, when he pitched for the Braves and really was pretty awful. If he keeps pitching like he's pitched since joining the Blue Jays, he'll win some games. And considering that he's only 26, maybe a lot of games. Especially if he keeps striking out a lot of hitters and doesn't lose that enlightened mind-set.
Postscript: Well, that didn't take long. Reyes joined Cliff Curtis and Matt Keough after lasting only three innings against the Yankees, exiting with the Blue Jays trailing 5-0. He figures to get a shot at breaking the record next Monday against the Indians.
For more about Reyes and the Jays, please visit Bluebird Banter.