This season, Matt Shoemaker has been a proxy for much of my frustration surrounding the Twins’ futile efforts. Other than perhaps a closer blowing lead after lead (I’m looking at you, 2016 Kevin Jepsen), there’s nothing I dislike more than pitchers who are absolutely non-competitive time and time again, yet continue to toe the rubber simply because reinforcements are not forthcoming.
Mercifully, the recent DFA of Shoemaker solves this problem both for me and the Twins organization. All told, Shoemaker pitched 60.1 innings—making 11 starts—to the tune of an 8.06 ERA (51 ERA+). Most fans would want to forget such an egregiously bad stat line post haste. The seed it planted in my brain, however, is how many Twins hurlers have ever done worse?
So, after a little Baseball Reference research, I have compiled the ten worst single-season pitching performances—by ERA—in club history (minimum 50 innings):
Going in chronological order, the “first worst”, if you will, is John Pacella (51.2 IP, 7.32 ERA, 1 game started, 58 ERA+) in 1982. Shortly thereafter, Brad Havens (80.1, 8.18, 14 GS, 52+) was not exactly a source of confidence every fifth day of ‘83.
Skip ahead about a decade, and the Twins had another “terrible two-fer”. In 1994, Jim Deshaies (130.1, 7.39, 23 GS, 66+) got a lot of slack before the strike ended that campaign (perhaps a humanitarian effort, in his case). Then, Jose Parra (61.2, 7.59, 12 GS, 64+) also struggled for purchase in ‘95.
One might expect the late-90s doldrums to be a breeding ground for substandard moundsmen, and, well...
- 1997: Scott Aldred (77.1, 7.68, 15 GS, 60+)
- 1999: Benj Sampson (71.0, 8.11, 4 GS, 63+)
- 2000: Sean Bergman (68.0, 9.66, 14 GS, 54+)
The last three names on this list might be a little surprising to Twins fans:
Kyle Lohse was a solid 4th/5th starter in the early 00s, but in ‘06 (63.2, 7.07, 8 GS, 64+) that was certainly not the case. No word on how much of that line transpired before or after he went Office Space on Gardy’s clubhouse door.
Nick Blackburn had a lot of great starts for the Twins, but none of them occurred in 2012 (98.2, 7.39, 19 GS, 56+). I have absolutely zero recollection of Blackie being that atrocious in ‘12. I guess what they say about the brain blocking out traumatic events holds water.
Perhaps the most surprising entry on this “worst of” compilation? Jose Berrios. While currently an established rotation commodity, his 2016 (58.2, 8.02, 14 GS, 53+) wasn’t exactly the big league welcome he was expecting.
So, now Matt Shoemaker will enter into—and then be just a quickly purged from—our collective memories along with those described above. Maybe the saddest commentary on the ‘21 season: Randy Dobnak (43.2, 7.83, 5 GS, 53+) is on pace to join him.