Over the years, baseball fans have been treated to some truly remarkable pitchers. Names like Young, Koufax, Ryan, Maddux, and Clemens wowed crowds during the 20th century. Thus far in the 21st, we've been treated to names like Halladay, Hernandez, Verlander, Wainwright, and Price.
There were also a few years in there when jacked-up supermen hit everything half way to the moon. Pitching purists like to forget about that era, but this fan sure did like watching 7-6 baseball games.
There have also been some downright terrible pitchers to suit up over the years. Some of these pitchers came into the league or signed a free agent contract showing such promise, but flopped shortly thereafter. Others were never much good to begin with, just hanging around long enough to get a job with some desperate team with a hole in the rotation.
Join me as we make fun of the worst starting pitcher in each MLB team's history.
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28 Arizona Diamondbacks: Brandon McCarthy
Brandon McCarthy is the kind of pitcher that every team wants to take a chance on. The 6'7'' righty throws hard and is an obvious student of the game. His Twitter account is actually entertaining. He's funny, self-deprecating, and has an absolutely stunning wife.
Unfortunately, it hasn't really transferred to success on the field. Arizona signed McCarthy to a two-year deal in 2012 for a total value of $15.5 million. Arizona management saw McCarthy put up terrific numbers with the Oakland A's over the two seasons before and decided to take a chance on the oft-injured pitcher.
It didn't work out so well. McCarthy pitched to an 8-21 record over his season and a half with the team, posting an ERA of close to 5.00 in 244 innings. Advanced stats do indicate McCarthy did get pretty unlucky in his time with Arizona, which is why the Yankees pried him away before the 2014 trade deadline.
27 Atlanta Braves: Jo-Jo Reyes
I really, really wanted to go with John Rocker for this one, just to get an excuse to mock one of the worst human beings alive. But Rocker never did start a major league game.
Instead, let's go with Jo-Jo Reyes, a highly-touted prospect that was drafted by the team in the second round in 2003. Reyes made his major league debut in 2007, starting 10 games with the Braves. He pitched to a 2-2 record with an ugly ERA of 6.22 and an even uglier WHIP of 1.678.
The Braves tried to be patient with their pitching prospect, letting him start 23 games the next season. Results were somehow even worse, with Jo-Jo pitching to a 3-11 record and an ERA of 5.81. He hung around the organization for a couple more years before being shipped to Toronto with Yunel Escobar in 2011.
Jo-Jo is still kicking around, actually making an appearance with the Angels in 2015.
Baltimore Orioles: Jose Mesa
Jose Mesa managed to spend 19 years in the MLB while posting an ERA of 4.36 and a WHIP of 1.472. He was the very definition of a league average pitcher, managing to accumulate an ERA+ of 100 during his career.
He started his career as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles before settling into his more remembered role as closer. In parts of four seasons with the team, Mesa went 13-24 with a 5.41 ERA and a WHIP of 1.611 over 269.1 innings. Amazingly, he threw two complete games, one of which was a shutout.
Even after pitching that poorly, Mesa was still tried as a starter for another two seasons after being traded to Cleveland in 1992. He finally became a reliever in 1994 and was the team's closer starting in 1995.
26 Boston Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Over the years, the Red Sox have had some terrible pitchers. You don't *not* win the World Series for 86 years without some help from mediocre pitching.
Probably the most disappointing pitcher for Red Sox fans showed up shortly after the team finally broke the curse in 2004. Dice-K was the big prize from Japan prior to the 2007 season, with the Red Sox beating out the Yankees, Mets, and Rangers for his services by posting a bid of $51,111,111 for the former Japan League superstar. His total contract ended up being more than $100 million.
His first two seasons were great, especially the second one, when he put up a record of 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. But that season proved to be his only productive one, as the former superstar put up ERAs of 5.76, 4.69, 5.30, and 8.28 in his next four seasons.
25 Chicago Cubs: Steve Trachsel
When Cubs fans are done blaming Steve Bartman for their years of playoff woes, they might want to take a look at some of the duds the team has sent to the mound.
Perhaps the worst was Steve Trachsel, who somehow managed to accumulate 190 starts with the Cubs over eight years. He ended up with an overall record of 61-72, with an ERA of 4.41, a WHIP of 1.378, and an ERA+ of 98.
Amazingly, Trachsel went on to play 11 more years in the big leagues, putting up crummy numbers until retiring after the 2008 season.
24 Chicago White Sox: Jaime Navarro
After managing to not spontaneously combust while starting over seven seasons with the Brewers and Cubs during the 1990s, the Chicago White Sox signed Jaime Navarro to a four-year, $20 million contract for the 1997 season.
After three seasons, the White Sox shipped Navarro back to Milwaukee, picking up Jose Valentin as one of the players in the deal. During his time with the Sox, Navarro was truly awful, posting a record of 25-43 with an ERA over 6.00 over 87 starts.
In 1997, he led the American League in hits allowed, earned runs, and wild pitches, with 14, something most of us reading could do and for far less than $5 million per season too.
23 Cincinnati Reds: Si Johnson
It's amazing. The Reds have been around for over a century and I don't think I could name nine players off their roster during that whole time. What a forgettable franchise.
Silas Kenneth Johnson was perhaps the worst. Playing for the Reds for parts of nine seasons starting in 1928, Johnson really started to get hit around once the MLB's dead ball era came to a close in the early-1930s.
He ended up with a 46-86 record during his time in Cincy, pitching to a 4.28 ERA and a WHIP of 1.397. That's good enough for a very pedestrian ERA+ of 90. On the bright side, he finished up 55 of his 142 starts. Old Hoss Radbourn approves.
22 Cleveland Indians: Roberto Hernandez
Roberto Hernandez followed up a 1-10 rookie season with a terrific sophomore effort in 2007, going 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA and a 4th place finish in the Cy Young Award race. That was about as good as it got for Hernandez, as he followed it up with some pretty terrible seasons. He ended up 53-69 during his seven years with the Tribe, posting a 4.64 ERA.
You might remember Hernandez as Fausto Carmona, a name the pitcher invented back in 2000 in order to get a visa to play in the United States. While he was at it, Hernandez also told the Indians he was 17, even though he was 20.
This ploy has been copied by women on dating sites countless times since.
21 Colorado Rockies: Jamey Wright
To say the Colorado Rockies haven't gotten good pitching over the years is like saying Taylor Swift is kinda cute or cheeseburgers are okay I guess. It's a bit of an understatement.
Jamey Wright gets the honor of being the worst of the worst. He played parts of six seasons for the Rockies, posting a 5.40 ERA over 132 total starts on his way to a 35-52 record. Wright's big problem was control; he walked 4.4 batters per nine innings as a Rockie.
Even after adjusting for pitching at Coors Field, Wright still only put up a 95 ERA+. That's mediocre, no matter where you play.
20 Detroit Tigers: Jeremy Bonderman
Jeremy Bonderman was a highly regarded high school prospect when Billy Beane's Oakland A's drafted him in 2001.He got traded to Detroit shortly thereafter. Instead of giving him time to properly develop, the hapless Tigers threw him in the rotation as a 20-year old in 2003.
It went as well as you'd expect. Bonderman went 6-19 that year, posting a 5.56 ERA and a 1.549 WHIP. He did get slightly better over the years, but never actually posted an ERA under 4.00 for an entire season for his career.
He finished with a 68-78 record, a 4.91 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.409. For that, Detroit paid him more than $41 million.
19 Houston Astros: Tom Griffin
Tom "don't call me Peter" Griffin was a highly touted Astros prospect back in 1966, when the team took him out of Grant High School in Van Nuys, California with the 4th overall pick.
He never really panned out, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen after early struggles. In eight years with the Stros, Griffin went 45-60 over 199 appearances, 123 of them starts. He posted a 4.20 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.470, numbers which translated into an ERA+ of just 84.
Griffin ended up playing six more years in the bigs, putting up some decent numbers with the Giants and Padres.
18 Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar
When Kansas City selected Luke Hochevar with the first overall pick in 2006, he was supposed be part of a core of good young pitchers, a group that included Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria. At least two of those guys panned out.
Hochever has posted a 44-62 record over 128 starts with the team, to go along with an ERA over 5.00 and a WHIP of more than 1.35. In his best year as a starter he posted an ERA+ of 87. Yeah, that's not good.
He's been much better in the bullpen. In 2015, he made 49 appearances in relief, posting a 3.73 ERA over 50.2 innings.
17 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Ervin Santana
Although Santana doesn't have the worst numbers posted by Angels' starting pitchers over the years, I chose him because of his maddening inconsistency.
Like in 2008, when Santana looked like he was going to finally live up to all his promise. He went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, finishing 6th in Cy Young voting. He followed it up with an 8-8 record in 2009, with an ERA over 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.475.
Santana's inconsistency didn't scare off the Minnesota Twins, who signed the pitcher to a four-year, $55 million deal in 2014. He celebrated by getting suspended for the first half of the 2015 season after testing positive for stanozolol, a type of steroid.
16 Los Angeles Dodgers: Darren Dreifort
The Dodgers have been so consistently good over their history that it's tough to find truly awful pitchers who stuck around for any amount of time.
But there have been plenty of mediocre ones. Darren Dreifort gets the nod as the worst because he was such a promising prospect. The Dodgers selected the righty with the 2nd overall pick in the 1993 draft. He made his debut in 1994 out of the bullpen.
After a few okay years in the pen, the Dodgers moved him to the rotation starting in 1998. Over the next six years, he made 113 starts with an overall record of 41-45, and an ERA well over 4.00. He was demoted back to the bullpen in 2004, but not before earning nearly $64 million in total salary.
15 Miami Marlins: Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster ended up having a solid major league career, playing 16 total seasons with five teams, posting a 132-133 record with a 4.25 ERA. Those aren't great numbers, but he was a solid back end of the rotation option.
His worst years were with the Marlins, sandwiched between the team's two World Series victories. During his five years with the fish, he posted a 42-43 record with an ERA of 4.64, a WHIP of 1.536, and an ERA+ of just 92. He then got traded to Cincinnati, where he was actually worse.
He finally settled down as a member of the Cubs, posting some solid years at Wrigley Field.
14 Milwaukee Brewers: Jeff Suppan
If you ever want to kill a good mood, just check out the Baseball Reference page of Milwaukee Brewers pitchers. You'll be in tears in no time.
This made it difficult to pick a worst pitcher, but I think Jeff Suppan qualifies. He got the big contract (four-years, $42 million in 2006), and he put up terrible numbers. During his time with the Brew Crew, Suppan posted a 29-36 record, a 5.08 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.596, which translated to an ERA+ of 84.
Amazingly, he got the start in game four of the NLDS in 2008, giving up five runs in just three innings, getting outdueled by Joe Blanton. That's Jeff Suppan's career in a nutshell, right there.
13 Minnesota Twins: Nick Blackburn
For some reason, the Minnesota Twins actually thought Nick Blackburn could pitch. They were wrong.
Admittedly, the 6'4'' righty did have a decent rookie season, going 11-11 with an ERA just a hair above 4.00. Even his sophomore season was okay, with pretty similar numbers.
But then the wheels fell off. He posted ERAs of 5.42, 4.49, and 7.39 over the next three seasons before the Twins finally sent him back to the minors midway through the 2012 season. He would never crack a big league roster again.
12 New York Mets: Oliver Perez
I don't think there's a player more hated in Mets history than Oliver Perez. And this is a team that put up with Darryl Strawberry and his shenanigans for years.
After putting up two decent seasons with the Mets, the team signed him to a three-year, $36 million contract extension. Perez rewarded their generosity by putting up ERAs of 4.22, 6.82, and 6.80 over the next three seasons, including WHIPs of 1.924 and 2.072. He was released in mid-2010.
You'd think he'd be done after that, but Perez has done a nice job resurrecting his career as a reliever. He's currently pitching for the Astros.
11 New York Yankees: Carl Pavano
After years of inconsistency with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins, the New York Yankees decided to make a $40 million bet that the good Carl Pavano would show up, signing the tall righty to a four-year deal.
It was a disaster, after posting a 4-6 record with a 4.77 ERA in the first year of the deal, Pavano missed the entire 2006 season with a whole barrage of injuries, one of which was "bruised buttocks."
Over his four years in pinstripes, Pavano posted a 9-8 record, an ERA of 5.00, and a WHIP of 1.455. He then went on to have some decent years with the Twins before calling it a career.
10 Oakland Athletics: Alex Kellner
Under Billy Beane's direction, the Oakland A's of the last 15 years have had terrific pitching. We have to go a little further back to find an A's pitcher that was truly awful for a long stretch.
Alex Kellner played with the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics back from 1948 to 1958. During his 11 seasons with the team he led the American League in losses twice (including a 20 loss season in 1950), wild pitches twice, and earned runs twice.
He had some good seasons too, but they weren't enough to make up for the bad ones. He finished with an overall record of 92-108 with a 4.54 ERA and an ERA+ of just 92.
9 Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Kendrick
Although there have been pitchers worse than Kyle Kendrick over the life of the Philadelphia Phillies, management always pulled the plug on them before too long.
Not with Kendrick. He lingered in the Phillies rotation for eight long seasons. He was decent in small sample sizes, like in 2011 when he managed to post a 3.22 ERA over 34 total appearances, 15 of which were starts.
The small bits of good weren't enough to cancel out the bad. Overall, Kendrick posted an ERA of 4.42 and a WHIP of 1.367 during his eight years with the club. He did post a winning record of 74-68, a testament of the good offence he had in front of him.
8 Pittsburgh Pirates: Zach Duke
In the mid-2000s, in a desperate attempt to get back to respectability in a league with salaries the team couldn't think about matching, the Pirates went all-in on a young group of guys, including lefty starter Zach Duke.
After a stretch of going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA over 14 starts in his rookie season in 2005, Duke went downhill in a hurry. In six total seasons with the Bucs he went 45-70 with an ERA of 4.54, a WHIP of 1.484, and a pretty terrible ERA+ of 95.
On the bright side, he did get a pity invite to the All-Star Game in 2009, a year where he led the National League in losses. Hey, somebody had to go.
7 San Diego Padres: Steve Arlin
Steve Arlin was a bad pitcher on some terrible San Diego Padre teams of the early-1970s.
He first started getting regular starts in 1971, when he went 9-19 with an ERA of 3.48. The next year it got worse, with a 10-21 record and a 3.60 ERA. When you look past the win and loss records, at least those weren't terrible ERAs.
Arlin really started to stink after that. Over his final two years with the Padres he posted ERAs of 5.10 and 5.91, good enough for an ERA+ of 68 and 61, respectively. He was out of baseball by the end of that season.
6 San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito
In 2006, the San Francisco Giants made easily the worst free agent signing in the team's history, inking Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million deal.
Even if the contract wouldn't have been so expensive, Giants fans still would have hated Zito. He went 63-80 on good Giants teams, posting an ERA of 4.62, a WHIP of 1.439, and an ERA+ of just 87.
Zito did partially redeem himself during the 2012 World Series, holding the high-powered Detroit Tigers to just one run over 5.2 innings pitched in game one.
5 Seattle Mariners: Joel Pineiro
Pineiro started off his Mariners career with a bang, posting a total win-loss record of 36-20 during his first three full years with the club. If he would have left the Mariners after the 2003 season, he would have never sniffed this list.
Unfortunately for Mariners fans, he followed up his first three seasons with three of the worst pitching seasons in team history. In 2004 he went 6-11 with a 4.67 ERA. He followed it up with 7-11 and 8-13 records in 2005 and 2006, posting ERAs of 5.62 and 6.36, respectively. Not surprisingly, Seattle let him walk after the 2006 season.
4 St. Louis Cardinals: Rick Ankiel
There are certainly Cardinals pitchers who have put up worse numbers than Rick Ankiel, who only ended up making 41 starts for the team from 1999-2001. He had a career ERA of 3.90, which isn't so bad.
So why is he on the list? Because there has never been a case of a pitcher so publicly getting the yips in the history of baseball. In the 2000 postseason, Ankiel threw nine wild pitches in just four innings of work, on his way to walking 11 batters. It was a truly epic meltdown that ruined his ability to pitch at an elite level.
Then, in a testament to his inner strength, Ankiel came back as an outfielder, hitting 25 home runs for the 2008 Cardinals. Amazing.
3 Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Rupe
During the first decade of the team's existence, the Tampa Ray Devil Rays sent some truly awful pitchers to the hill at Tropicana Field.
Ryan Rupe might be the worst of the bunch. Over four seasons with the club starting in 1999, Rupe posted a record of 23-37 and that's even after going 8-9 during his rookie season.
You'd think the team's anemic offense did him in, but Rupe didn't do himself any favors. He posted an ERA of 5.85 during his tenure with the club, which translates into a 80 ERA+ and a WHIP of 1.419. Not surprisingly, he was out of baseball a short time later.
Texas Rangers: Chan Ho Park
Globe Life Park in Arlington is notorious for being one of the most hitter friendly stadiums in the American League. This means the Texas Rangers have had some truly awful pitching performances over the years.
Perhaps no other pitcher was as consistently bad as Chan Ho Park. After eight somewhat successful years with the Dodgers, the Rangers overpaid for Park in a desperate attempt to shore up a terrible pitching staff. The Korean pitcher signed for $65 million over five years.
He posted a 22-23 record over 68 starts, a record which was helped by Texas' terrific offense. His ERA and WHIP tell a different story, coming in at 5.79 and 1.610, respectively. That translates to an ERA+ of 83.
2 Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Towers
There has been no pitcher more consistently aggravating to Blue Jays fans than Josh Towers.
During his five years with the club, Towers had his few bright spots overshadowed by his terrible lows. He ended up going 37-42 with an ERA of 4.93 over a total of 108 appearances with the Jays, 89 of them being starts.
His worst season was 2006, when he went 2-10 over 15 appearances (12 of them starts), posting an ERA of 8.42 and a WHIP of 1.774. It's almost like he was a Yankees double agent.
1 Washington Nationals: Tony Armas
Tony Armas has a special spot in the history books. He's one of the few pitchers who was terrible for both the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals.
In eight injury-plagued seasons with the franchise, Armas made 151 starts, earning a 48-60 record. He posted an ERA of 4.65 and a WHIP of 1.415 while walking 4.3 players per nine innings. Even for those bad Expo and National teams of the mid-2000s, that's still terrible.
Probably Armas's biggest claim to fame is he was one of the players the Red Sox traded to Montreal for Pedro Martinez. Congrats Tony. You still suck.
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