Every MLB Team's Worst Starter
While it is a wonderful time of the year for the four teams that are still alive and playing October baseball, the rest of the league is left to think about next year.
Who will be competitive? Who will fall off early? Who will fail to meet expectations?
Surely, this season we witnessed some incredible stories throughout the league. There were no-hitters, there were surprise teams that were successful and, of course, there were teams that failed to live up to other-worldly expectations.
The same will hold true in 2013.
For now, we are left to examine each team individually and identify some of the flaws in their respective organizations.
Where better to start than with the pitching rotation? Every team has a weak link. Some have more than that. For fun or for sobering reality (whichever way you'd prefer to view it), here is a look at the worst starting pitcher on every major league roster in 2012.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Tyler Skaggs
Statistically, this is the easy selection.
Of the pitchers that were on the Diamondbacks' active roster at the end of the season, Skaggs owned the highest ERA (5.83) with a 1.466 WHIP.
However, these numbers are severely skewed. Skaggs did only start six games for the D'backs, posting a 1-3 record. In those six games, he only pitched 29.1 innings.
On top of that, he's just 20 years old. Still very much a kid.
Had Joe Saunders remained on the roster, he would have been my choice here, easily.
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
Historically, Jair Jurrjens has been a much better pitcher than what he panned out to be in 2012.
This season, he only started 10 games for the Braves in an injury-shortened season, posting a 3-4 record while owning a career-high 6.89 ERA and 1.862 WHIP.
In 11 total games, he only managed to pitch 48.1 innings and strike out 19 batters.
His H/9 ratio of 13.4 is almost double that of his 2009 season, whereby he posted a 7.8, making the National League All-Star team and starting 34 games for the Braves.
His status with the Braves will be an interesting story to watch this winter, as he is arbitration eligible. The question is, will Atlanta see enough value in him to tender an offer?
Baltimore Orioles: Jake Arrieta
There really is very little to criticize on this 2012 Baltimore Orioles team.
Certainly, they were one of the over-achievers this season, but man, it was a fun ride to watch. That said, the player representing the O's on this list has to be Jake Arrieta.
Arrieta started 18 games for Baltimore this season, posting a 3-9 record with a 6.20 ERA and a 1.369 WHIP.
Something that sticks out looking at this Orioles pitching staff: Arrieta posted the fourth-most innings pitched on the team, yet he only racked up 114.2 over the course of 24 total appearances.
Boston Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka
There were several viable options for this distinct honor, but Daisuke Matsuzaka certainly takes the cake in Boston.
His 8.28 ERA and 1.708 WHIP stand out almost as much as his 1-7 record on the season.
This isn't even taking into account his entire performance while pitching in Boston. A complete bust on many counts.
Chicago Cubs: Chris Volstad
The Chicago Cubs were not shy about the fact that they weren't going anywhere in the 2012 season.
With talent like Chris Volstad on the mound, that was pretty obvious.
He went just 3-12 in 21 starts for the Cubbies this season, posting a 6.31 ERA and a 1.617 WHIP in 111.1 innings of work.
The 81 runs (78 of which were earned) he surrendered this season led the Cubs.
Chicago White Sox: Phil Humber
The fact that Phil Humber threw a no-hitter this season is almost laughable.
At best, it proves that anybody can have a good day. Other than that one shining moment, Humber was a hindrance to the White Sox's rotation rather than a catalyst.
In 16 starts and 26 total games, Humber posted a 5-5 record with a 6.44 ERA and a 1.539 WHIP, both of which were team highs.
Cincinnati Reds: Mike Leake
The name Mike Leake has many Reds fans wondering, "What if Johnny Cueto hadn't gotten injured..."
Postseason aside, during the regular season, Leake proved to be the weak link on an otherwise impeccable pitching staff.
His 4.58 ERA and 1.352 WHIP were the highest among Reds starters yet low enough to have numerous other people on this list envious.
Cleveland Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez
I'm well aware that there were pitchers with higher ERA's and WHIP's on the Cleveland Indians this season. However, Ubaldo Jimenez was brought to town to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he's been anything but.
In his 31 starts this season, Jimenez posted a 9-17 record.
If you're keeping score at home, those 17 losses were the most in all of Major League Baseball this season.
After pointing that out, need I even tell you that he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 1.613 WHIP as the Indians' No. 2 pitcher?
Colorado Rockies: Drew Pomeranz
This was a hard one to label.
Drew Pomeranz has tremendous talent and I think in time he will be a top-of-the-rotation arm. The problem is, he had all of these expectations staring him down and he didn't really live up to the billing this season.
In 22 starts, he posted a 2-9 record with a 4.93 ERA and a 1.479 WHIP.
The good news? That 4.93 ERA was the lowest of any starter on the Rockies.
The bad news? That 4.93 ERA was the lowest of any starter on the Rockies.
Detroit Tigers: Rick Porcello
The Detroit Tigers are another great team with very few weaknesses, especially in terms of pitching.
That said, if one player must be named, that player would have to be Rick Porcello. In 31 starts this season, he posted a 10-12 record with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.531 WHIP.
Believe it or not, that 10-12 record and subsequent .455 winning percentage was the lowest of any pitchers on the Tigers' staff.
Houston Astros: Dallas Keuchel
Dallas Keuchel, the 24-year-old lefty for the Houston Astros, had the distinct honor of owning the lowest winning percentage of all starters and the highest ERA.
His 3-8 record afforded him a .273 winning percentage, coupled with a 5.27 ERA and a 1.547 WHIP.
It's the Astros...do I have to go into more detail than that?
Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar
Admit it, the first name that came to mind was Jeremy Guthrie, wasn't it?
Surprisingly, when making the leap to K.C., Guthrie settled down and posted an ERA that was equivalent to about half of his Colorado ERA.
Luke Hochevar, however, can't say the same.
He went 8-16 on the season, owning the second-most losses in Major League Baseball. Add in the fact that his ERA was 5.73 with a 1.419 WHIP, and you have a nice candidate for the team's worst pitcher.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Ervin Santana
This was supposed to be the greatest rotation is baseball history; then, Ervin Santana had to go and screw the whole thing up.
Surely, I'm being facetious. The staff collectively under-performed. None more so than Santana.
In his 30 starts for the Halos, he posted a 9-13 record, good enough for a .409 winning percentage with a 5.16 ERA and a 1.270 WHIP.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Aaron Harang
In all honesty, the Dodgers don't really deserve a nomination here.
Their starting five all had ERA's under 4.00, and other than Harang, WHIP's just under 1.400.
However, in fairness, Harang owned the "worst" stats on an extremely good pitching staff.
He went 10-10 on the season with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.403 WHIP. Teams would kill for that type of production from their No. 2 starter, let alone their No. 3.
Miami Marlins: Josh Johnson
This was another hard decision. Not because of the caliber of pitchers on the Marlins, more so on the reputation Josh Johnson has versus what he did this season.
Face it, J.J. was awful this year, especially if he is supposed to be the ace of the staff.
His 8-14 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.280 WHIP are indicative of that.
Am I complaining about a sub-4.00 ERA and a WHIP under 1.300? You bet. If J.J. is the ace of the staff, his winning percentage needs to be up, ERA down and WHIP down.
His role on the team plays a large factor in this nomination.
Milwaukee Brewers: Marco Estrada
The Milwaukee Brewers are another team that genuinely has a terrific starting rotation.
No man was bad; however, as with the Dodgers, a nominee will be named to maintain fairness.
For the Brewers, that man will be Marco Estrada, purely because he has the lowest winning percentage on the team, and for no other reason.
Realistically, the man owns a 3.64 ERA and a 1.142 WHIP as the team's third starter. His 5-7 record is the only knock one could have against him, and that is something not entirely in his control.
Rickie Weeks...yeah, I know he's not a pitcher, but dammit, he was awful this season, wasn't he?
Minnesota Twins: Nick Blackburn
Since he is still in the Twins' system, one has to go with Nick Blackburn.
In his 19 starts for the Twins this season, Blackburn posted a 4-9 record with a 7.39 ERA and a 1.713 WHIP.
Is there really any more to be said?
New York Mets: Johan Santana
Has there been a bigger bust in recent memory (other than Jessica Rabbit) than Johan Santana?
This season he—despite pitching a no-hitter (see: Phil Humber, #lucky, etc.)—has only managed to win six games for the Mets, losing nine.
Furthermore, he posted a 4.85 ERA with a 1.333 WHIP.
That's a far cry from the Cy Young seasons he had in Minnesota, that's for sure.
New York Yankees: Freddy Garcia
The New York Yankees have long been the "haves" of Major League Baseball, but the 2012 season witnessed them struggle at times.
Call it injuries, call it age, call it whatever you want. The Yankees were brought down to earth.
The name you would highlight on their starting rotation as a contributing factor for this trip back to earth would have to be the 7-6 Freddy Garcia.
Keep in mind, Garcia still had a winning record and the Yankees are still playing in October.
Among his peers, Garcia did own the highest Yankee ERA of 5.20 with a cool 1.370 WHIP to match.
Oakland A's: Tyson Ross
Twenty-five-year-old Tyson Ross was given the ball 13 times this season for the Oakland Athletics.
From that, he managed just a 2-11 record with a 6.50 ERA and a 1.814 WHIP.
This was a significant deviation from the usual pitching that the A's offered this season, as most starters owned ERA's in and around the 3.00 median.
Not too bad for a team that wasn't supposed to do anything this season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Vance Worley
Yet another team that was supposed to be incredible this season, the Philadelphia Phillies were a shell of their former selves.
While, generally speaking, the pitching under-performed, Vance Worley was still the weakest link.
In his 23 starts for the Phils, Worley managed just a 6-9 record with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.511 WHIP.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Erik Bedard
In his 24 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Erik Bedard managed to post a lackluster 7-14 record with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.472 WHIP.
Those 14 losses were the most of any starter on the Pirates' staff and as many at A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez combined.
San Diego Padres: Casey Kelly
This is another case whereby the title "worst" isn't all that deserved.
The Padres' Casey Kelly is just 22 years of age and just feeling his way into Major League Baseball. That said, one can easily overlook his 2-3 record in just six starts.
Beyond that, his 6.21 ERA and 1.690 WHIP will be insignificant come next season.
San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum
Is Tim Lincecum really the worst pitcher on the San Francisco Giants?
No, probably not.
However, he did have the worst season of any starter this season, despite his amazing playoff run. The man posted a career-worst 10-15 record with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.468 WHIP, all of which ranked worst among Giant pitchers in 2012.
Seattle Mariners: Hector Noesi
When the Mariners received Hector Noesi as part of the Michael Pineda trade with the Yankees, they thought they would be getting a quality arm in return.
Thus far, that has not been the case.
In his 18 starts for the Mariners (22 total games), Noesi owns a 2-12 record with a 5.82 ERA and a 1.369 WHIP.
St. Louis Cardinals: Joe Kelly
The Cardinals have an excellent pitching staff.
The only reason why Joe Kelly was selected was due to him starting 16 games for the Red Birds and owning a 5-7 record, the worst among all starters for the Cardinals this season.
He owned a 3.53 ERA and a 1.383 WHIP on the season.
Needless to say, the Cards are a team of "haves" in terms of pitching.
Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore
The Tampa Bay Rays are another team with almost no weakness in the armor of their pitching staff.
Consider it a compliment, Rays fans, that the "weakest" pitcher on the team is a rookie with an 11-11 record, and a 3.81 ERA and 1.348 WHIP to boot.
Texas Rangers: Scott Feldman
Early in the season, Scott Feldman was actually one of the more reliable starters on the Rangers' pitching staff.
The Rangers won the first three games with him on the mound this season.
Then, of course, the rest of the season happened.
He posted a 6-11 record with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP.
Roy Oswalt...well, because he was pretty awful.
Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Romero
The Toronto Blue Jays were hoping for a great season out of stud pitcher Ricky Romero.
What they got was a mediocre season, by any standards.
In his 32 starts, Romero posted a 9-14 record with a 5.77 ERA and a 1.674 WHIP, a far cry from the ace-caliber pitcher the Blue Jays thought he could be.
Washington Nationals: Edwin Jackson
The Washington Nationals, statistically, had the best pitching staff in all of Major League Baseball.
That means I'm nit-picking here.
Edwin Jackson went 10-11 this season with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.218 WHIP. If that is your team's "worst" starting pitcher, you're in pretty good shape.
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