Joe Paterson’s horrible start tops all other horrible starts

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After entering with a 9-0 lead to start the ninth inning Monday, Diamondbacks left-hander Joe Paterson gave up five straight hits, including back-to-back homers, to the Phillies. He was charged with five runs without retiring a batter, and he now has a 37.12 ERA on the season.

As a Rule 5 pick a year ago, Patterson allowed a total of 11 runs in 34 innings, good for a 2.91 ERA. He’s already matched that total of runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings this season. In his last two appearances, he’s allowed 10 consecutive batters to reach, nine via a hit. Overall, he’s allowed 15 hits in 23 official at-bats, good for a .652 average against.

If Paterson doesn’t pitch again this season — and it’s a good bet that he will be optioned to Triple-A prior to Tuesday’s game — that .652 would be a historic mark. No one in major league history has ever finished a season with that many hits allowed in so few innings pitched. The worst average against of anyone to pitch at least 2 2/3 innings belongs to David Moraga, who had a .625 average against in 2 2/3 innings in 2000. The highest average against for anyone to allow 15 hits in a season is the .579 mark against the Cardinals’ Brady Raggio in 1998 (22 H in 7 IP).

It’d also be the highest going by appearances. Paterson has appeared in six games with a .652 average against. The next highest for anyone to appear in six games was .583 against the Mets’ Tim Hamulack in 2005. It wouldn’t quite set the five-appearance record: the Tigers’ Dave Gumpert had a .700 average against in five appearances in 1982 and the Yankees’ Tony Fossas had a .667 average against in five appearances in 1999.

It probably won’t come to that, though; Paterson has the stuff to be a useful specialist and should be able to turn it around with a few weeks in Triple-A. This just hasn’t been his month.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.