Josh Tomlin breaks Daisuke Matsuzaka’s major league record

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Now, I know what you’re thinking… what record could Daisuke Matsuzaka possibly hold that Josh Tomlin could possibly break?

Tomlin, though, is now the all-time leader in outings of five innings or more to begin a career.  Having thrown five hitless against the Yankees tonight, he’s up to 29 in a row since debuting for the Indians last year.

Matsuzaka previously held the record, opening his career with 28 straight outings of at least five innings pitched.

Since many top hurlers have started off their careers in relief and since old-time baseball featured many starters getting yanked early in games when they didn’t have their best stuff, the list of pitchers to start off their careers with 20+ five-inning outings is surprisingly short.

Josh Tomlin – 29 (2009-10)
Daisuke Matsuzaka – 28 (2007)
Steve Rogers – 24 (1973-74)
Runelvys Hernandez – 21 (2002-03)
Chris Nabolz – 21 (1990-91)
Barry Zito – 20 (2000-01)
Howard Ehmke – 20 (1919)

Whether Tomlin will hold the record for long remains to be seen.  Baltimore’s Zach Britton and Seattle’s Michael Pineda both have active streaks of 17 and could pass Tomlin by the end of the season if Tomlin gets knocked out early in one of his next couple of starts.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.