Last Tuesday, Arizona’s Joe Paterson came in to pitch the 8th inning and surrendered hits to the first two men. Although he escaped that jam, the fact that those hits came from the Pirates — the worst-hitting team so far, one that’s already had two games of 2 hits or less — gave a hint that his really bad week was just getting started.
On Thursday, he tossed a lost-cause inning against Atlanta, and let in 3 runs on a trio of doubles and a walk. Another subtle omen: Pitcher Mike Minor (career 3-for-45 with 25 Ks) managed to put the ball in play, a consistent theme against Paterson this year.
But the worst was still to come.
In another blowout loss to the Braves on Friday, the southpaw Paterson came on to start the 9th against a pair of lefties. They each singled, as did the next two men. After walking a run, Paterson was relieved by Brad Ziegler, who cleaned up the mess with a strikeout and a GDP. Paterson had allowed 4 hits and not retired a batter.
You might think he had reached bottom. But in the phrase of the moment, Paterson found “new ends to the earth.”
Monday in Phoenix, he came in for the 9th with a 9-0 lead against a Phillies lineup that had managed 8 runs in their last 58 innings and just 2 HRs in their prior 9 games. Against Paterson, they fired a fusillade of single-double-single-HR-HR, closing the gap to 9-5 before Craig Breslow restored order. It was the third time this year that a pitcher allowed 5+ runs while logging zero innings, but the first outside of the Fenway Flammatorium.
More notably, it was the second straight game in which Paterson had allowed 4 hits or more without retiring a batter. According to B-R’s Play Index, there has been just one other “streak” of that kind since 1918:
“Specs” Meadows, who started game 1 of the 1925 World Series (he lost 4-1 to Walter Johnson, but drew the only walk off Barney), was almost through with a long and productive career when his sad streak occurred; he would pitch just once more in the majors before retiring with a career mark of 188-180. But Paterson is just a second-year man out of Oregon State University. His minor-league stats show why he was promoted to the big club last year, where he posted a 2.91 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, mostly as a lefty specialist (62 games but just 34 IP). He began this year on a strong note, preserving a lead on Opening Day by retiring his only batter with the tying runs aboard. But the next man he faced, a week later, drew a 4-pitch walk, and very little has gone Joe Paterson’s way since then.
There is talk that Arizona might send him down to the minors. If he doesn’t pitch in the majors again this year, his season stat line would represent certain extremes of the modern MLB era (since 1893), including:
Most hits allowed in 3 innings or less:
Highest batting average allowed with at least 20 ABs:
Highest ERA with at least 5 games:
In fairness, let’s show a few where Paterson would not come out on top:
Since 2000, most batters faced without a strikeout:
(How did Kanekoa Texeira allow 13 hits in 6.1 IP but just 2 runs? Luck, of course, but also: no extra-base hits! It was a 21-year-high in hits with no XBH.)
Highest WHIP in 5+ games:
Wherever his next pitch may be, HHS wishes him good luck. You can do it, Joe! Anyone who makes it from 10th-round draft pick to big-league hurler can overcome one bad week — no matter how Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad it may be.