Recently, John Autin coined the term “disaster start” to denote starts where a pitcher allows more runs than innings pitched. So far this year, there have been 119 such starts, or about 3 a day. In 2011, there were 54 games where both starters were a disaster.

After the break, I’ll take a closer look at disaster starts and the pitchers most prone to them.

If I recall correctly, John came up with the “disaster start” idea in connection with his post about Philip Humber. Humber has had some pretty mixed results this year - everything from perfection to the furthest thing from it. But, Humber isn’t the only guy. All of the pitchers on the next list are currently on pace for 10 or more disaster starts in 2012, something which hasn’t happened since Jeff Weaver, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Davies in 2007.

Rk Player Year #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Mike Minor 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 11.57 3 0 0 16.1 24 21 4 11 19 2.14
2 Francisco Liriano 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 11.91 3 0 0 11.1 22 15 2 9 8 2.74
3 Phil Hughes 2012 3 Ind. Games 1 2 .333 9.53 3 0 0 11.1 19 12 4 4 12 2.03
4 Luke Hochevar 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 3 .000 20.03 3 0 0 10.1 28 23 2 5 5 3.19
5 Chris Schwinden 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.25 2 0 0 8.0 13 10 4 3 1 2.00
6 Jonathan Sanchez 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 17.47 2 0 0 5.2 12 11 2 7 4 3.35
7 Tyson Ross 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 19.64 2 0 0 7.1 20 16 1 3 3 3.14
8 Clayton Richard 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 9.53 2 0 0 11.1 16 12 3 6 6 1.94
9 Hector Noesi 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 27.00 2 0 0 4.1 12 13 3 5 4 3.92
10 Juan Nicasio 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 14.09 2 0 0 7.2 13 12 2 8 8 2.74
11 Guillermo Moscoso 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.57 2 0 0 9.1 16 12 2 4 10 2.14
12 Luis Mendoza 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.05 2 0 0 7.1 19 9 2 5 1 3.27
13 Brian Matusz 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 9.90 2 0 0 10.0 19 11 1 5 10 2.40
14 Paul Maholm 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 13.50 2 0 0 8.0 12 12 3 3 4 1.88
15 Hiroki Kuroda 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 9.00 2 0 0 10.0 18 10 3 4 6 2.20
16 Josh Johnson 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 17.05 2 0 0 6.1 17 12 0 4 2 3.32
17 Tommy Hunter 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.70 2 0 0 10.0 17 13 3 5 10 2.20
18 Philip Humber 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 20.86 2 0 0 7.1 17 17 4 5 6 3.00
19 Liam Hendriks 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 18.47 2 0 0 6.1 18 13 2 2 4 3.16
20 Matt Harrison 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 15.12 2 0 0 8.1 22 14 2 3 6 3.00
21 Freddy Garcia 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 29.70 2 0 0 3.1 12 11 1 2 3 4.20
22 Yovani Gallardo 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 22.24 2 0 0 5.2 15 14 4 7 6 3.88
23 Josh Collmenter 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 0   12.86 2 0 0 7.0 10 10 3 4 6 2.00
24 Clay Buchholz 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 0   14.09 2 0 0 7.2 15 12 3 6 6 2.74
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2012.

So, which pitchers have had the most disaster starts in a season?  I took a look and found 190 seasons in the game-searchable era with 10 or more disaster starts. Here are the top 25 from that list (note that stats shown are for the disaster starts, NOT for the entire season).

Rk Player Year #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Pat Caraway 1931 16 Ind. Games 0 16 .000 18.44 16 1 0 0 41.0 98 84 6 41 8 3.39
2 Sam Gray 1931 14 Ind. Games 0 12 .000 11.84 14 0 0 0 57.0 113 75 7 28 24 2.47
3 Early Wynn 1948 13 Ind. Games 0 10 .000 13.72 13 0 0 0 41.1 91 63 10 27 9 2.85
4 Claude Willoughby 1930 13 Ind. Games 0 12 .000 15.20 13 1 0 0 45.0 107 76 4 35 12 3.16
5 Les Sweetland 1930 13 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 13.31 13 1 0 0 48.0 110 71 15 27 9 2.85
6 Eric Milton 2005 13 Ind. Games 0 8 .000 13.84 13 0 0 0 53.1 113 82 20 21 32 2.51
7 Jack Knott 1936 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 12.02 13 2 0 0 60.2 115 81 6 39 18 2.54
8 Jay Hook 1962 13 Ind. Games 0 8 .000 14.95 13 0 0 0 37.1 78 62 15 20 28 2.63
9 Bump Hadley 1932 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 14.47 13 0 0 0 51.0 90 82 10 71 26 3.16
10 Tony Cloninger 1969 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 13.62 13 0 0 0 37.0 70 56 13 33 20 2.78
11 Johnny Babich 1935 13 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 14.28 13 1 0 0 34.2 71 55 4 15 16 2.48
12 Pedro Astacio 1998 13 Ind. Games 1 9 .100 11.47 13 0 0 0 62.0 101 79 18 32 53 2.15
13 Mike Smithson 1986 12 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 12.34 12 0 0 0 35.0 81 48 11 18 17 2.83
14 George Pipgras 1930 12 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 10.72 12 1 0 0 47.0 85 56 4 26 26 2.36
15 Darren Oliver 2001 12 Ind. Games 1 7 .125 11.49 12 0 0 0 49.1 93 63 5 28 30 2.45
16 Jack Kramer 1939 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 15.98 12 0 0 0 32.2 69 58 4 44 9 3.46
17 Clay Kirby 1973 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 11.67 12 0 0 0 39.1 79 51 12 24 23 2.62
18 Darryl Kile 1999 12 Ind. Games 0 7 .000 13.32 12 0 0 0 51.1 97 76 18 31 35 2.49
19 Si Johnson 1934 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 14.75 12 0 0 0 32.1 73 53 3 15 15 2.72
20 Phil Huffman 1979 12 Ind. Games 0 10 .000 13.19 12 0 0 0 43.0 87 63 11 19 14 2.47
21 Chief Hogsett 1937 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 14.44 12 0 0 0 43.0 103 69 11 31 16 3.12
22 Sammy Ellis 1966 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 15.75 12 0 0 0 36.0 75 63 16 23 28 2.72
23 Richard Dotson 1986 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 14.24 12 0 0 0 42.1 85 67 11 24 22 2.57
24 Brian Bohanon 1999 12 Ind. Games 3 5 .375 12.82 12 0 0 0 53.1 107 76 18 30 32 2.57
25 Jim Bibby 1974 12 Ind. Games 1 11 .083 12.53 12 0 0 0 51.0 83 71 16 32 30 2.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2012.

So, there’s a HOFer 3rd on the list, and in the prime of his career. And, Brian Bohanon (#24), the poster boy for the marvels of run support, with a 3-5 record in 12 disaster starts.

Interestingly, 3 other HOF pitchers (Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro and Bert Blyleven) also had seasons with 10 or more disaster starts although, unlike Wynn, that season came late in each of their careers when all were past their prime.

Bobby Witt leads all pitchers with 3 seasons of 10+ diasaster starts. Steve Blass, Max Butcher, Wes Ferrell, Lerrin LaGrow, Dave Roberts, Sammy EllisEarly Wynn, George Pipgras and Vern Kennedy each have two such seasons.

 In case you were wondering, complete game victories have been recorded in disaster starts. Here are those games.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc BF
1 Ned Garver 1951-05-13 (1) SLB DET W 13-10 9.0 11 10 8 3 2 1 28 40
2 Ralph Branca 1949-06-25 BRO PIT W 17-10 9.0 12 10 10 5 5 5 23 41
3 Dutch Leonard 1940-05-19 WSH CHW W 12-10 9.0 15 10 9 4 8 3 23 48
4 Bob Harris 1938-10-02 (2) DET CLE W 10-8 7.0 11 8 7 4 6 0 27 36
5 Thornton Lee 1938-09-28 CHW CLE W 14-11 9.0 16 11 11 6 3 2 8 49
6 Wes Ferrell 1937-07-25 (1) WSH SLB W 16-10 9.0 14 10 9 4 4 2 21 45
7 Peaches Davis 1937-05-09 CIN PHI W 21-10 9.0 15 10 7 3 2 0 22 46
8 Oral Hildebrand 1937-04-21 SLB CHW W 15-10 9.0 17 10 10 4 2 0 11 47
9 Jack Knott 1936-09-02 SLB PHA W 13-11 9.0 12 11 11 7 2 1 14 43
10 Phil Collins 1932-06-23 PHI CHC W 16-10 9.0 14 10 10 3 2 2 18 40
11 Lefty Stewart 1932-06-22 SLB NYY W 17-10 9.0 14 10 6 7 2 2 22 46
12 Herb Pennock 1930-06-15 NYY CLE W 17-10 9.0 16 10 8 1 4 1 22 45
13 Elam Vangilder 1928-09-29 DET NYY W 19-10 9.0 18 10 10 1 3 2 13 46
14 Ted Blankenship 1927-07-03 CHW SLB W 14-10 9.0 14 10 5 3 1 2 27 44
15 Bill Sherdel 1926-07-13 STL BRO W 12-10 9.0 16 10 10 1 5 4 19 42
16 Ernie Wingard 1925-05-31 SLB CHW W 15-11 9.0 19 11 10 1 0 0 6 45
17 Urban Shocker 1924-07-03 SLB CLE W 16-10 9.0 12 10 5 2 2 0 33 42
18 Red Faber 1919-09-15 CHW PHA W 11-10 9.0 13 10 8 2 4 2 27 44
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2012.

Finally, something the Browns excel in - they are the class of this list, going 6-2 in these games. Also note that only 4 of these 18 games were from the NL – the AL definitely had the lion’s share of the bashers in the 20s and 30s. Incidentally, the Ernie Wingard game (#16) has the distinction of being the lowest game score in a complete game victory.

But, now for the Jekyll and Hyde bit. Of the 190 seasons with 10+ disaster starts (DS), these are the ones that also featured at least 18 quality starts (QS).

Player Year QS DS Tm G GS CG SHO W L W-L% IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR
Bobby Jones 2001 18 10 SDP 33 33 1 0 8 19 .296 195.0 250 137 111 38 113 5.12 78 37
Melido Perez 1990 19 10 CHW 35 35 3 3 13 14 .481 197.0 177 111 101 86 161 4.61 83 14
Mike Witt 1987 18 10 CAL 36 36 10 0 16 14 .533 247.0 252 128 110 84 192 4.01 108 34
Ken Forsch 1982 19 10 CAL 37 35 12 4 13 11 .542 228.0 225 108 98 57 73 3.87 105 25
Geoff Zahn 1980 19 10 MIN 38 35 13 5 14 18 .438 232.2 273 138 114 66 96 4.41 99 17
Ray Burris 1977 19 11 CHC 39 39 5 1 14 16 .467 221.0 270 132 116 67 105 4.72 93 29
Rudy May 1977 22 10 BAL 37 37 11 4 18 14 .563 251.2 243 114 101 78 105 3.61 105 25
Dave Roberts 1976 18 10 DET 36 36 18 4 16 17 .485 252.0 254 122 112 63 79 4.00 93 16
Paul Splittorff 1974 18 11 KCR 36 36 8 1 13 19 .406 226.0 252 122 103 75 90 4.10 93 23
Lerrin LaGrow 1974 18 10 DET 37 34 11 0 8 19 .296 216.1 245 132 112 80 85 4.66 81 21
Alan Foster 1970 19 10 LAD 33 33 7 1 10 13 .435 198.2 200 104 94 81 83 4.26 90 22
Joe Niekro 1970 18 10 DET 38 34 6 2 12 13 .480 213.0 221 107 96 72 101 4.06 93 28
Gerry Janeski 1970 20 10 CHW 35 35 4 1 10 17 .370 205.2 247 125 109 63 79 4.77 80 22
Sammy Ellis 1965 22 11 CIN 44 39 15 2 22 10 .688 263.2 222 119 111 104 183 3.79 99 22
Larry Jackson 1965 25 10 CHC 39 39 12 4 14 21 .400 257.1 268 126 110 57 131 3.85 96 28
Paul Foytack 1959 18 10 DET 39 37 11 2 14 14 .500 240.1 239 137 124 64 110 4.64 87 34
Bob Purkey 1959 18 10 CIN 38 33 9 1 13 18 .419 218.0 241 118 103 43 78 4.25 96 25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2012.

Larry Jackson leads this group with 35 out of 39 (89.7%) ”Jekyll and Hyde” starts, those that are either quality or a disaster. Jackson is followed closely by Alan Foster (87.9%) and Rudy May (86.5%). Possibly the most impressive thing about this list is that 7 of the 17 pitchers have an ERA+ over 95, not easy to do with 10 or more disaster starts.

Any other J&H pitchers you recall – either on their game or way off it, but seldom in between?

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