Houston Astros SP Framber Valdez joins elite company with single-season quality starts record
Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez made MLB history Sunday afternoon after throwing his 25th consecutive quality start, a single season record. The record previously was set in 2018 by Jacob DeGrom at 24.
Valdez needs one more quality start to tie the all-time consecutive quality starts record at 26, which was set over the course of two seasons by both Bob Gibson and Jacob DeGrom.
Needless to say Valdez is in some pretty elite company when your name is being bandied about with DeGrom and Gibson. While this record doesn’t get the same notoriety as Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak or Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games played, it’s still a remarkable achievement that no other pitcher in major league history has accomplished.
Not Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, nor any other hall of fame starter has accomplished this feat. Valdez has them all beat and this is truly a testament to being an old school starting pitcher who can go deep into games.
As starting pitchers continue to pitch only two times through the order making their starts shorter and shorter, this record stands out even more. Complete games and shutouts are almost extinct with how rarely starters are allowed to go beyond 100 pitches.
Given the context of the current state of Major League Baseball, relying on a bevy of relievers to close out games, this streak is all the more impressive.
The sheer length of this streak is a testament to Valdez’s amazing consistency. It started on April 25th which was Valdez’s fourth start of the year meaning he had no margin for error the entire season to accomplish this streak. Every pitcher has at least one blow up normally and Valdez has not had one since he gave up six earned runs in 4-1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on April 19th.
These have not been cheap quality starts either where he barely meets the minimum requirement throwing six innings and giving up three earned runs. In 12 of the 25 quality starts he’s gone seven innings or more. In five of the 25 he’s gone eight innings or more and has had a complete game and a shutout in two of them.
His total innings pitched over the course of the streak is 171-2/3, averaging 6.9 innings pitched per quality start. For comparison’s sake Astros starters lead the Major Leagues in average innings per start at just under six innings.
His ERA in those starts is 2.41 which is over two runs lower than the 4.50 ERA needed over six innings to meet the minimum requirements to achieve this streak.
In other words he’s pitched well above average during this streak and has earned it with more than just the necessary standard for quality performances.
Comparing Framber Valdez’s 2022 season to Jacob DeGrom’s 2018 season
And to compare it to DeGrom’s performances during his 2018 streak, DeGrom threw 172.2 innings during his 24 consecutive quality starts averaging 7.2 innings per start. He had an ERA of 1.67 during the streak. He made it to the seventh inning in 18 of the 24 quality starts and the eighth inning in eight of the 24 quality starts. He threw one complete game with no shutouts.
Suffice to say Valdez was not as dominant as DeGrom was during his single season streak. But the streak is only about being good enough to keep a team at bay and giving your team a chance to win by making sure the score stays close.
Valdez has provided that for the Astros as a reliable anchor to the rotation, especially given the absence of last year’s best pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. leaving a void at the top of the rotation.
It may not be enough for Valdez to win the Cy Young but doing something so many other Hall of Fame pitchers could never achieve shows the discipline and focus it takes to have that level of high quality consistency over the course of an entire season.
Valdez is now two quality starts away from setting the all-time mark. His next opponents will be the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays, two offenses that respectively rank 22nd and 18th overall in Major League baseball.
Valdez has a very solid opportunity to be the all-time leader in consecutive quality starts. He’s kept his composure thus far. Baseball fans love a good record breaking streak and we’ve not been treated to many in recent history. A lot seem pretty much unbreakable. Valdez can provide two record breaking streaks in less than two weeks.