Moyer’s Not Alone

We’ve done several posts this year on how good Jamie Moyer has been for the Phillies, but yesterday, he was pretty lousy. Giving up six runs while only getting four outs kind of lousy. In fact, his start was bad enough to earn a Game Score of 20, which is pretty horrible, especially for a pitcher good enough to be given the right to start a playoff game.

But how bad was Moyer’s start in terms of postseason history?

Not that bad, it turns out. 52 playoff starters have posted a game score lower than 20, and five others matched Moyer’s game score to the tee. In honor of Moyer getting thumped, here’s a look at the worst pitching performance by a playoff starter in MLB history.

October 14th, 1996. 12 years ago tomorrow, Todd Stottlemyre took the hill for the Cardinals against the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals had a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS, and a win would have sent them to the World Series. He was matched up against John Smoltz, so St. Louis needed Stottlemyre to be at his best. He wasn’t.

He gave up five runs in a first inning which saw all nine men come to the plate, then gave up three more hits to start the second inning before he was mercifully pulled. His final line for the day: 1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. That’s a game score of 8, by the way. Smoltz cruised, tossing seven shutout innings in a 14-0 Braves route, and Atlanta would go on to win both games six and seven (the final by a similar 15-0 beating) to win the NL pennant. A good outing by Stottlemyre might not have been enough, but we’ll never know, because in a series clinching game, Stottlemyre had the worst postseason start ever.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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