Maddux. Perhaps we are at the dawn of a golden era for the Maddux. It could be that word has gotten out, and now pitchers are trying their damnedest to pull one off and gain membership in the elite club. That's the reach of this blog, the entire game is being changed by it as we speak (or not... probably not... certainly not)! Thursday night it was Philadelphia's Joe Blanton, who used just 88 pitches to mow down the Braves. Last night, it was Toronto's Henderson Alvarez, he shut down the Angels on 97 pitches, one night after his teammate, Brandon Morrow just missed a Maddux of his own with a 102 pitch shutout.
Alvarez, who is only 22 years old, was pitching in just his 16th career game. I thought I'd take a quick look at Madduxes being thrown so early in a career. (a reminder, Maddux data is from 1988 til the present, as those are the years for which pitch data is available).
Fewest games til first career Maddux:
1. Jerome Williams: June 27, 2003 (6th career game),Giants over A's, 96 pitches
2. Doug Johns: September 18, 1995 (9th career game), A's over Angels, 95 pitches
3. Ben McDonald: July 21, 1990 (13th career game), Orioles over White Sox, 85 pitches
4. Mike Grace: September 2, 1997 (16th career game), Phillies over Yankees, 84 pitches
4. John Maine: July 21, 2006 (16th career game), Mets over Astros, 98 pitches
4. Hiroki Kuroda: July 7, 2008 (16th career game), Dodgers over Braves, 91 pitches
4. Henderson Alvarez: May 4, 2012 (16th career game), Blue Jays over Angels, 97 pitches
8. Terry Mulholland: July 5, 1988 (19th career game), Giants over Cubs, 95 pitches
8. Dave Haas: September 10, 1992 (19th career game), Tigers over White Sox, 94 pitches
10. Sergio Mitre: June 14, 2005 (20th career game), Cubs over Marlins, 99 pitches
The man himself, Greg Maddux didn't throw his first until his 109th game, so Henderson has a nice head start on trying to catch his record of 13 career Madduxes. Of course, as the other names on this list show, throwing a Maddux early in one's career doesn't mean they should start molding your bust in Cooperstown just yet.
In any event, a hat tip to Henderson Alvarez, who becomes the third pitcher of 2012 to throw a Maddux (joining Philip Humber and Joe Blanton).