CLEVELAND -- As of Tuesday afternoon, five American League pitchers had reached double-digits in wins.
Four were one-time first-round draft picks, another a touted second-round pick. They're all big names: CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and Jon Lester.
The fifth guy? Josh Tomlin of the Indians.
Not a first-round pick (19th round, actually). Not a big name (seriously, had you heard of him before this year, or even this year?).
He's 10-4, with a 3.78 ERA. He just set a modern major-league record, becoming the first pitcher since at least 1919 to begin a career with 29 consecutive starts of five innings or more. Monday night, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Yankees.
Pretty wild stuff for a guy who was available (and not taken) in the Rule 5 draft not long ago, a guy who was never invited to the Indians' big-league camp before this year, or even to their winter development program for top prospects. Not bad, for a guy who says he never threw a no-hitter in college, in high school, or even in junior high.
"I don't know if I ever took one past the third inning [before Monday]," Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon.
His average fastball this year, according to Fangraphs, is just 87.6 mph -- well below average for a big-league starter. But his command is far, far above average; Tomlin has already made eight starts where he went at least five innings and didn't walk a batter, the most in baseball (Roy Halladay and Dan Haren are tied for second, with six).
"I'm kind of stunned if he walks one," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "If he walks more, I want to blame the umpire."
The guy all the scouts overlooked for so long is finally getting noticed.
"All the hard throwers ought to have to watch one of his starts," one scout said Tuesday.
"He's an ideal guy in the American League," another scout said. "Those hitters love to hit the fastball. He can get ahead with breaking balls. When he's locating, guys make quick outs."
That same scout bet friends this spring that Tomlin would win more games this season than either Fausto Carmona and Carlos Carrasco. So far, he's right.
"He knows where every pitch is going," Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher said. "He's fearless, too."
He's not Verlander (although Tomlin says he did throw a 94 mph fastball once, when he was a reliever in Class A Kinston, in 2008). He's not Weaver, he's not Sabathia and he's not Lester.
But he is one of the big reasons the Indians are in first place, and he is one of the best stories in baseball right now.
It's hard to know how big a deal it is that Tomlin has made 29 straight starts of more than five innings. It's impressive that he's the first in recorded history to do it at the start of a career, but it's not like it's anywhere close to the overall record (Curt Schilling went at least five innings in 147 straight starts between 2001-06).
One interesting sidenote on it, though. Belcher, whose career path was nothing like Tomlin's (a hard thrower, he was the top overall draft pick in June 1983, and again the following January), began his own big-league career with 12 straight starts of at least five innings.
He might have gotten to 13 and beyond, but in the third inning of that 13th game, Belcher was pitching for the Dodgers against the Mets. Sid Fernandez had thrown at Steve Sax, so in the third inning, Belcher drilled Kevin Elster in the back, and was ejected from the game.