Carl Hubbell remains on top.
Back in 1936-37, the Hall of Famer set the all-time record for the longest pitcher win streak in games in which he was the pitcher of record (meaning he was on the hook for either a personal win or loss). Since then, many talented arms have made spirited runs at matching Hubbell. None have come up with the combination of brilliant pitching, significant team support and good fortune necessary to match him.
Gerrit Cole became the latest challenger, with a 20-0 streak that began in May 2019 with the Astros and ended four wins shy of Hubbell in August 2020 with the Yankees.
Here are the top-10 pitcher win streaks on record since 1901, listed in descending order. (Note: These streaks do not include postseason appearances, which means that Cole's loss to the Nats in Game 1 of last year's World Series did not preclude him from tying Hubbell's record.)
1) Carl Hubbell -- 24 straight wins
Streak: July 17, 1936 - May 27, 1937
Hubbell famously struck out five straight Hall of Famers in the 1934 All-Star Game and also hurled an 18-inning shutout in ‘33, so this streak is just one of several bolded points on his Cooperstown resume. It began with a shutout of the Pirates that put Hubbell’s Giants just two games over .500, but 15 more consecutive wins (including 13 more complete games) by Hubbell boosted New York to the National League pennant and earned Hubbell his second NL MVP award.
The Yankees finally hung a loss on Hubbell in Game 4 of the World Series, but the screwballer’s regular-season streak stayed intact through the first two months of the 1937 campaign, helping him solidify his famous “Meal Ticket” moniker. A near-record crowd of 61,756 (and another 25,000 fans turned away at the gates) came to the Polo Grounds on May 30 to see Hubbell go for No. 25, but the Dodgers spoiled the party with five early runs. All told, Hubbell’s streak included 21 wins as a starter and three more out of the bullpen (he also picked up two saves along the way).
2) Roy Face -- 22 straight wins
Streak: June 7, 1958 - Aug. 30, 1959
Face’s 1959 campaign is one of the all-time seasons put up by any reliever: His 18-1 record that year still represents the most victories ever recorded by a pitcher with one or fewer losses. Face called himself lucky to come out of the Pirates’ bullpen so many times without a loss, but his skill played a huge role, too. The 5-foot-8, 155-pound forkballer often pitched multiple innings without any negative effect, and his dominance peaked by mid-July 1959, when his season record stood at 13-0 with a 1.10 ERA. Face would go on to save three of the Pirates’ four wins in Pittsburgh’s upset of the Yankees in the ‘60 World Series.
3-T) Gerrit Cole -- 20 straight wins
Streak: May 27, 2019 - Aug. 14, 2020
Cole jumped several levels in dominance after the Astros acquired him from the Pirates via trade before the 2018 season, and there wasn't a hotter pitcher in baseball down the '19 stretch run. He finished the season with a combined 373 strikeouts across the regular and postseason, the fifth-highest single-year total in history. That performance netted Cole a record-setting nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees following the '19 World Series, instantly catapulting him to ace status on baseball's most famous team. Cole's streak extended through his first six starts in pinstripes before a loss to the Braves on Aug. 26.
3-T) Jake Arrieta -- 20 straight wins
Streak: Aug. 4, 2015 -- May 25, 2016
Arrieta’s run is probably the most statistically dominant on this list. To start, it included not one, but two no-hitters -- the first on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at Dodger Stadium, and the second less than eight months later in Cincinnati. It also encompassed the majority of the greatest second half recorded by any pitcher, by ERA (0.75), in history. Overall, Arrieta allowed just 14 earned runs across the 20 games he won.
3-T) Roger Clemens -- 20 straight wins
Streak: June 3, 1998 - June 1, 1999
The Rocket put together his run while wearing two different uniforms, beginning it with the Blue Jays as he pitched his way to a second straight AL Cy Young Award and then continuing it after he was traded to the Yankees. Clemens needed a little luck along the way, escaping with a no-decision in seven different starts in which he allowed three earned runs or more -- including a seven-run implosion against the Orioles and a five-run start against the Rangers in early 1999. Still, Clemens went nearly an entire calendar year without suffering a loss.
3-T) Rube Marquard -- 20 straight wins
Streak: Oct. 1, 1911 - July 3, 1912
After winning his final decision of 1911, Marquard made history of his own by going 19-0 to start the ‘12 campaign -- still a record for the most wins without a loss to begin a season. Marquard’s record would have actually been 20-0 if he had played in the current era; he pitched a scoreless inning of relief on April 20 and then watched his Giants come back for a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth, but rules in those times gave the win to the pitcher who tossed the most innings. New York’s offense made it comfortable for Marquard: He won each of his first dozen decisions of 1912 by at least three runs.
7-T) Jose Contreras -- 17 straight wins
Streak: Aug. 21, 2005 - July 4, 2006
Contreras’ run had some perfect bookend symmetry as it started and ended against the Yankees, with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson opposing him in both games. Wedged in between the separate legs of Contreras’ streak in the 2005 and ‘06 regular seasons was the ‘05 postseason, which saw the Cuban righty win three of his four starts and help lead the White Sox to a long-awaited World Series title.
7-T) Johan Santana -- 17 straight wins
Streak: July 17, 2004 - April 26, 2005
Santana pitched brilliantly even in defeat, surrendering just two runs on a pair of homers by the Angels in a 2-1 loss that snapped his streak on May 1, 2005. The Twins’ ace twirled plenty of gems before that, including a 14-strikeout, no walk performance against the Orioles in September 2004 that helped him sew up his first of two career AL Cy Young Awards. Altogether, Santana strung together 22 straight outings in which he allowed three earned runs or fewer to close out the ‘04 season.
7-T) Dave McNally -- 17 straight wins
Streak: Sept. 22, 1968 - July 30, 1969
McNally went 15-0 out of the gate to begin the ‘69 campaign, earning him the nickname “McLucky” from some of his teammates (the Orioles came back to win seven games that McNally left while trailing on the scoreboard), but it wasn’t his fault that he had a high-powered Baltimore lineup with stars like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell backing him up. The left-hander eventually strung together four straight 20-win seasons for Earl Weaver’s ballclub.
7-T) Johnny Allen -- 17 straight wins
Streak: Sept. 10, 1936 - Sept. 30, 1937
Allen came oh-so-close to preserving his streak for at least one more winter, but he finally suffered a loss in the Indians’ last game of the season after he was outpitched in a one-hit shutout thrown by Tigers pitcher “Whistling Jake” Wade, who entered that game with a 5.64 ERA. Allen finished his career with a 142-75 record, for a .654 win percentage that ranks 11th among Modern Era pitchers with at least 200 career decisions.