Roger Clemens. Juan Marichal. Robin Roberts. Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Ranger Suarez?

It’s incredible to think that the Phillies’ No. 3 starter is pitching at a pace with some of the all-time greats, but that’s how impressive Suarez has been through his first 10 starts of the season.

In fact, the Phillies are chasing all kinds of history at the moment, and we’ll get into it all, but after a 5-2 win over the defending World Champion Texas Rangers on Tuesday, how can you not talk about Suarez and this once-in-a-generation type start to a season he has had?

Let’s start with comparing it to Roger Clemens:

Andy Hawkins won each of his first 10 starts in 1985 for the San Diego Padres. Mostly an innings eater in his 10-year Big League career (4.22 ERA, 1.403 WHIP, averaging 200 innings per 162 games for his career), Hawkins and the Padres were coming off a magical run to the World Series in 1984. He had solid numbers in those 10 starts (69 2/3 IP, 2.71 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 28 K, 10 BB, 8HR) but he quickly regressed toward the norm afterwards.  His 11th start was a no decision against the Phillies, and he was more mediocre the rest of the way. Over his final 22 starts he was 8-8 with a 3.34ERA, a 1.359 WHIP, 45 strikeouts, 55 walks and 10 homers allowed in 159 innings.

Jake Arrieta was coming off his Cy Young campaign in 2015 and got off to a torrid pace in 2016 for a Cubs team that would eventually break the 108-year curse and win the World Series. In those first 10 starts, Arrieta had numbers more closely resembling Suarez. He was 9-0 in 68 innings, with a 1.72 ERA, 0.897 WHIP, 67K, 21 BB, and 3 HR. He, too, fell back to earth after that, going 9-8 over his final 21 starts with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.183 WHIP, 123K, 55BB, and 13 HR in 129 1/3 innings.

Clemens was a whole different animal, getting off to an insanely good start like this two different times – and at two different stages of his career. The first was as a 23-year-old in Boston in 1986. In those first 10 starts, he pitched an eye-popping 81 2/3 innings. That’s almost a complete game every start. He was 9-0 with a 2.64 ERA, a 0.967 WHIP, 90 K, 22 BB and 10 homers. But unlike Hawkins and Arrieta, Clemens didn’t slow down.

He would win his next five starts (14-0) and didn’t lose a game until July 2nd. Clemens would finish 24-4 overall, going 15-4 in his last 23 starts with numbers that got even better (172 1.3IP, 2.40 ERA, a 0.969 WHIP, 148 K, 45 BB, and 0nly 10 more homers allowed). It would lead to the first of his seven Cy Young Awards.

The second time he did it was as a wily veteran at age 34 in Toronto in 1997.

He would start 9-0 with a 1.81 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 76 K, 21BB, 4HR in 74 /3 innings. He would win twice more before suffering his first loss in mid-June. Again, he would maintain his dominance on the mound for the rest of the season, although with a slight drop off this time, but he still finished 21-7 with a 2.05 ERA and a 1.030 WHIP, en route to his fourth Cy Young Award.

In both seasons, Clemens led the league in Wins, ERA, ERA+, FIP, and WHIP.

I share all these stats with you because the question when it comes to Suarez is can he sustain it like Clemens, or will he fade a little bit like Arrieta, or a lot like Hawkins?

Early indications are he’s got some sustainability.

“He’s kind of old school,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. “He’s not going to light up the radar, but he’s going to command the baseball, he’s going to work fast, change speeds when he’s behind in the count … it’s really fun for me to watch him.”

In short, Suarez is pitching, not just going up there throwing gas. Of his career-best 10 strikeouts Tuesday, Suarez struck out hitters on five different pitches.

As for the other tidbits of history, here’s connecting Ranger to Marichal:

His connection to Roberts? Suarez is the first Phillies pitcher to win nine consecutive starts since Roberts did it in 1952.

And Grover Cleveland Alexander?

It’s pretty incredible. We’re running out of superlatives for the guy. And his historic run is not lost on his teammates.

“As a team, we’re thinking about that, right,” said Bryce Harper, who had a double and a homer – the latter of which was the eventual game-winning RBI for the Phillies on Tuesday. “We want him to get to 10-0, and 11-0, and so forth.”

Suarez didn’t need much help from the offense he got it from the top of the Phillies lineup.

Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Harper and Alec Bohm each had two hits – the only hits in the game for the Phillies – but it was enough to plate five runs – a number they have reached 18 times in the last 24 games.

Bohm picked up two more RBIs, the first on a single in the fourth inning, scoring Harper, and then a double in the eighth inning, scoring Schwarber:

Bohm leads the majors in doubles with 19 and is tied for the major league lead in RBIs with 44. And while there’s still a long way to go, he’s also on the path to something historic.

1894??? That’s unfathomable.

Finally, as for the Phillies continued success (shout out to Sarge Matthews), their collective assault on the record books continues to be mind-boggling. At 35-14, it’s tied for the fastest start through 49 games in franchise history (1976). If they win Wednesday, it will be the club’s all-time best record through 50 games.

We’ll continue to highlight where this start falls historically in the history of the sport as long as it’s relevant.

They are currently on pace to win 116 games. That would tie the major league record held by the 1908 Cubs and the 2001 Mariners.

The number of teams all-time who have gotten off to better starts than the Phillies continues to dwindle.

They’re the 32nd team all-time to start at least 35-14. Only 16 teams have been better, and only three in the last 40 years:

  • 1984 Tigers (38-11)
  • 1998 Yankees (37-12)
  • 2001 Mariners (37-12)

Of those previous 31 teams, 24 have reached the World Series and 12 have won it.