Max Scherzer becomes fifth pitcher to win 18 of first 19 decisions

Max Scherzer improved his Cy Young case with his 18th win on Sunday.
Max Scherzer improved his Cy Young case with his 18th win on Sunday. (USATSI)

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The Tigers and Royals played an important (moreso for the Royals) five-game series these last four days, and on Sunday afternoon Detroit clinched the series win with a 6-3 victory. They took three of the five games and pushed Kansas City to 8.5 games back in the AL Central.

Thanks to eight innings of two-run ball, Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer earned the win on Sunday to improve his record to 18-1 in 25 starts. He's the fifth pitcher in history -- second in the last half-century -- to win 18 of his first 19 decisions. Here are the other four:

  1. Roger Clemens, 2001 Yankees (finished 20-3)
  2. Roy Face, 1959 Pirates (18-1)
  3. Don Newcombe, 1955 Dodgers (20-5)
  4. Rube Marquard, 1912 Giants (26-11)

Clemens is the only one of those four to win a Cy Young Award during their 18-1 season, but the award didn't exist until 1956. They only gave out one Cy for the two leagues until 1967 as well.

With Sunday's performance, Scherzer is now sitting on a 2.82 ERA in 172 1/3 innings. If you prefer sabermetrics, he's got a 2.66 FIP. Among qualified AL starters, he ranks sixth in ERA and second in FIP. He was third with 5.0 WAR coming into the day, so Scherzer's Cy Young case is strong even looking beyond the flashy win-loss record.

In case you're wondering, those 18 wins by Face in 1959 is the record for most wins with one or fewer loss in a single season. No other pitcher has ever won more than 15 games while losing zero or one.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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