Bartolo Colon's surprising career first


He's started almost 400 games in 16 years, but managed to do something he's never done before on Tuesday.

Bartolo Colon's career has been pretty weird. He showed promise in the 90s and delivered high-quality performances, but hit his stride in the early aughts. He was the centerpiece of of the trade that dismantled the farm of the Expos and changed the future of the Indians -- Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore all left Canada's other team for Colon. He didn't win a Cy Young award until 2005, in what was a pretty good, not great campaign for him, but one that featured a league-leading 21 wins. Then, he vanished, first into relief, then from the game itself, before reappearing in 2011 throwing strikes, strikes, and more strikes.

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At this point, finding something he hasn't done in 16 years and over 2,400 innings is difficult, but he managed the feat on Tuesday:

Essentially, in every start Colon has made in his career in which a Quality Start was a possibility, he's notched at least one strikeout. This sounds pretty impressive -- and it is, as it took 16 years for it to not happen -- but you need something to measure it against in order to see just how weird these kinds of streaks are in general.

Colon's 269 starts with at least six innings and one strikeout is the 127th-most in baseball since 1916. That's as far back as the data for such streaks goes -- if you're curious, Roger Clemens, with 594 such games out of 707 career starts, is the all-time leader. As for Colon, he's right behind Bill Lee's 270, and well ahead of active pitchers like Randy Wolf (255), Freddy Garcia (250), and A.J. Burnett (248). The thing is, he managed to record more of these in a row than the others have in their entire careers.

Sadly, since Colon had starts with fewer than six innings mixed in, we can't get a read of what the longest such streak of his kind is using Baseball-Reference's Play Index. Using what we do have, though, we find that the longest unbroken streak of starts with six innings and at least one strikeout belongs to Bob Gibson, who strung together 73 such games in a row between April 15 of 1968 and May 2 of 1970. Colon doesn't show up until #428 on the list, with 16 games matching those criteria in a row.

It's definitely weird, but it's impressive that, with all of the things that have happened to him in his career, and the changes in style, it took until 2013 and start 383 for him to fail to record a strikeout in a six-inning start. Given all that, though, it certainly suits Colon.

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