Relief pitchers are the punching bags of major league baseball. Everyone seems to hate relievers, and for the fact that they’re pretty much the backup pitchers. If they were any good, they would probably be starters. Or closers.
Chad Qualls has been one of the most hated men in Philadelphia over the past several months. He’s struggled immensely and was finally designated for assignment earlier this week, which will likely end hid major league career. I can’t imagine too many teams will rush to snatch up a 34-year old relief pitcher with a severely declining strikeouts rate, an inflated walk rate, and an awful habit of allowing inherited runners to score.
Qualls has never looked worse than he did Wednesday night, when he was torched for three runs in an inning of work against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team averaging just 3.76 per game this season.
Qualls faced seven hitters. Four reached, three on hits. One walked. Another one homered. No one struck out. Qualls was one of three Philadelphia Phillies pitchers to let up at least three runs last night, the first time the Phillies have pulled off that dubious feat in two years.
Qualls has been awful this year. His ERA is “only” 4.60 but his FIP is 5.61 and he is surrendering over two home runs for every nine innings pitched. He has accounted for -0.6 WAR this season, which makes him the worst player to put on a Phillies uniform so far in 2012, and the third-worst reliever in the game.
Let’s compare his numbers to Danys Baez, who was designated for assignment last year by the Phillies. The two have a lot in common – they each had a successful major league career as a reliever but really faded during their time with the Phillies.
A comparison of their numbers:
I’m surprised to learn that Qualls’ numbers were actually worse in many of the areas. Baez had the worse ERA but Qualls was worse in the home run rate and the wins above replacement, two huge statistics against him. Qualls was also signed to compete for the eighth inning setup man behind Jonathan Papelbon, while Baez was expected to pitch solely in mop-up duty.
I’ll go Baez as worse though for several reasons. ERA is probably the most important pitching statistic and he was significantly poorer. Baez gave up a run in 48 percent of his appearances in 2011 and two runs in 21 percent of them. Qualls gave up one run in 29 percent of his appearances this year and two runs in 14 percent of them. That pretty much clinches it. Both were downright awful, but it’s tough to be worse than Baez.