There are Jake Arrieta's 23 straight regular-season quality starts. Bob Gibson once did that. And Arrieta's 16 consecutive starts resulting in wins for the Chicago Cubs. Kris Medlen was the last to get there.
Of those three pitchers, the only with the stuff to get away with walking more than three batters in any game of any of their streaks was the one largely credited with the lowering of the mound nearly 50 years ago.
Brandon Finnegan should take notice. The Cincinnati Reds left-hander has been more unhittable than even Arrieta this season, but the control hasn't been there. It figures to take that and more to be the one to end the Cubs' winning streak with their ace on the mound Thursday night in Cincinnati.
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Gibson, the last to go beyond Arrieta, recorded 26 straight quality starts from 1967-68 and walked as many batters as he pleased - sometimes none, sometimes five. Atlanta won 23 straight Medlen starts from 2010-12 with the right-hander never issuing more than two free passes.
In Saturday's 6-2 home win over Colorado, Arrieta (3-0, 1.23 ERA) gave up five hits in eight scoreless innings as the Cubs (11-4) won 16 straight consecutive starts by one pitcher for the first time in data starting with the 1913 season. They did so in 15 with Rick Sutcliffe on the mound in 1984.
The reigning NL Cy Young winner, who has the longest quality-start streak on the present-day mound, is 19-1 with a 0.91 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and .156 opponent batting average in those 23 starts. Those numbers have all gotten better in the last 16 - 14-0, 0.70, 0.69 and .152.
"I just try and execute each time I go out," Arrieta said. "The results are hard to control. Just try and continue to go on the path I'm (on) right now, force contact and be aggressive in the zone, and good things will happen."
The right-hander hasn't faced the Reds since before both streaks started, but both of his outings against them last season were quality starts. Arrieta has, however, allowed eight runs in 10 career innings at Great American Ball Park.
That provides a little hope for Finnegan (1-0, 2.04), who's posted a .129 OBA through three starts. He won 9-8 in St. Louis on Saturday despite giving up four unearned runs, four hits and four walks in five innings.
"You're not going to have your best stuff every day, so you're going to have to go out there and you're going to have to battle and give it all you've got for as long you can," Finnegan told MLB's official website.
Finnegan has walked nine in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts, and the one before the Cardinals was a 5-3 loss at Wrigley Field. He gave up two runs and a hit with five walks over 6 2/3, and the Cubs roster is 1 for 23 against him.
Chicago swept that three-game series, as well as the last of 2015 in Cincinnati for a six-game winning streak over the Reds.
Cincinnati (8-7) won the last two of a three-game set with Colorado, and Wednesday's 6-5 victory came in walk-off fashion after blowing a three-run lead. Tucker Barnhart hit a game-ending single, while Brandon Phillips went 6 for 8 in the last two games of the series.
Phillips is 4 for 11 with two doubles against Arrieta.
Chicago failed to complete a sweep at St. Louis with Wednesday's 5-3 loss. The Cubs averaged 7.1 runs while winning eight of the first nine but 2.8 in splitting the last six.
Anthony Rizzo went 2 for 4 with a homer Wednesday but is batting .189. He was 0 for 11 against the Reds last week.