Ian Snell's performance last night was so horrific that I started thinking about the worst performances by Mariner starting pitchers so far this season. Here then in order are the worst ten starts this season, ranked by individual game tRA.
10th: Ian Snell, June 4 vs. Anaheim (L 1-7), 8.47 tRA
Ian Snell missed one bat this entire start, which lasted 98 pitches. He would strike out nobody and walk four, allow a home run and a mortar assault of fly balls. What a stupid game to be at, but at least on the plus side... no, wait, there was no plus side at the actual game.
9th: Doug Fister, April 8 @ Oakland (L 2-6), 8.48 tRA
Fister's first start of the season didn't last long. Well it did last long in the sense that he threw 96 pitches, but he only got through four innings over the span. That didn't doom the team though as just two runs plated while Fister was on the mound, but this was the sort of start that I expected of Fister's 2010 and not like what the rest of Fister's 2010 has actually become. Fister whiffed just two bats, struck out two, walked three and allowed as many line drives as ground balls.
8th: Ryan Rowland-Smith, April 12 vs. Oakland (L 0-4), 8.89 tRA
Rowland-Smith's second start of the year went better than his first or third (see below), but it was still poor. A .100 BABIP helped disguise just how poor of a start it was. RRS missed just four bats in 96 pitches and allowed a fair number of line drives. The ultimate culprit in this start though was control. Hyphen walked five batters with just one strike out and also yielded a home run as he seemingly always does.
7th: Ryan Rowland-Smith, April 17 vs. Detroit (W 4-2), 8.93 tRA
The one start on this list where the team still managed to win. Hyphen's superficial stats were not all that poor in this game. Six innings, four hits, just two runs. The problems as far as tRA are concerned are with the home run, the three walks (against just three strikeouts) and the seven line drives allowed out of 19 batted balls. Only four balls were put on the ground.
6th: Ryan Rowland-Smith, April 7 @ Oakland (L 5-6), 9.96 tRA
What a trifecta of starts this was to begin the season for one of our bigger hopes for a stabilizing presence. Similarly to the other two above, this was Hyphen's Houdini period where he was obviously pitching poorly, but the end results hadn't caught up with him yet. This start featured just one walk and strikeout, but the ever-present home run and a huge number of line drives
5th: Ian Snell, April 11 @ Texas (L 2-9), 10.82 tRA
April 7, 8, 11 and 12 all appear on this list. That was one bad stretch of starting pitching. It seems almost quaint now. Snell lasted just three innings in this game but did miss a lot of bats, which continued a hopeful trend from his first start. Somehow though he got 9 whiffs on just 78 pitches, Snell struck nobody out and did walk two. He also allowed 81% of his batted balls to be in the air, one of which cleared the fence.
4th: Ryan Rowland-Smith, April 23 @ Chicago (L 6-7), 13.50 tRA
This game featured a walk and three home runs allowed. Home runs are massively damaging and three in just 25 batters faced is nigh impossible to mitigate from tRA's point of view. Strikeouts would have been a step in that direction, but RRS punched nary a single hitter out.
3rd: Ryan Rowland-Smith, May 17 @ Oakland (L 4-8), 14.65 tRA
This was a complete smacking around by Oakland. Over 17 batters and just 50 pitches thrown there were two home runs hit, six line drives and four fly balls. No walks for a change but with such a high line drive percentage and the home runs allowed there was no salvaging this game.
2nd: Felix Hernandez, May 7 vs. Anaheim (L 0-8), 16.62 tRA
A bad Felix the likes of which I cannot remember seeing since 2006. Only 25% ground balls and absolutely no control leading to four walks and three home runs in just 3.1 innings. Among the tRA era (2007-present), Felix has never had a worse start than this one.
and the worst start of the year, no surprise, 1st: Ian Snell, June 9 @ Texas. (L 2-12), 21.67 tRA
Snell recorded just one strikeout and also issues a free pass to go along with a pair of home runs surrendered and five line drives out of 12 batted balls.
Of note is that eight of these listed ten starts came against a divisional opponent. Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith combine also for eight of these ten starts. Suffice to say that both have spectacularly failed our expectations and hopes. The odd awful start from a Felix Hernandez is frustrating, but usually remedied by the good starts that we more often see.
Hyphen has offered no such glimpses this season. RR-S's best start tRA-wise this season was his latest and that's still just a 4.66 mark. 4.53 is the current American League average tRA for starters. Ryan Rowland-Smith has made nine starts and his best has been below average. Snell at least had that dynamite Spring Training and a couple early starts where he managed to induce a lot of ground balls and keep the walks from being crippling. There's something clearly wrong with both of them and while it's not like nothing else has gone wrong with the team, those two played a gigantic part in why we'll be talking more about 2011 than post-trade deadline 2010.