Historically speaking, how bad was Cliff Lee last night?

10 Comments

Cliff Lee turning in a clunker last night was a huge surprise, but how does his disappointing performance compare to some of the worst Game 1 efforts in World Series history?

Based on Game Score, which is a Bill James invention that uses various aspects of a pitcher’s performance to calculate one number representing the strength of each start, Lee’s outing ranks as the 13th-worst in Game 1 history.

Baseball-Reference.com has the complete list, with the worst of all time being Woody Williams’ start against the Red Sox in 2004 when he allowed seven runs while recording just five outs.

Lee’s start last night is the worst since Jeff Francis allowed six runs in four innings against the Red Sox in 2007. And while Williams and Francis aren’t exactly household names Lee is actually in some pretty good company overall. There are 18 pitchers with a Game 1 start that tallied a Game Score of 30 or lower and the list includes names like Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettitte, Orel Hershiser, Hal Newhouser, and Eddie Cicotte.

The lesson? Two things, actually. First and foremost, Cliff Lee is human. Second, lots of other great pitchers have gotten knocked around in Game 1 of the World Series, in part because lots of great pitchers have started Game 1 of the World Series.

Former Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos signs a minor league deal with the Dodgers

Getty Images
1 Comment

Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.

OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.

It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.