|Daulton Varsho - RF||LaMonte Wade - LF|
|Stone Garrett - DH||Thairo Estrada - 2B|
|Josh Rojas - 2B||Joc Pederson - RF|
|Christian Walker - 1B||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Jake McCarthy - LF||Brandon Belt - 1B|
|Carson Kelly - C||J.D. Davis - DH|
|Alek Thomas - CF||Brandon Crawford - SS|
|Sergio Alcantara - 3B||Joey Bart - C|
|Geraldo Perdomo - SS||Mike Yastrzemski - CF|
|Zac Gallen - RHP||Logan Webb - RHP|
Dispiriting as Tuesday’s performance by Ian Kennedy may have been, it was far from the worst by a D-backs’ reliever. Indeed, according to Baseball Reference and Win Probability, it only tied for 24th worst in franchise history. Dammit, it wasn’t even the worst of the season for Arizona: merely tied for second. The other two occasions also saw the D-backs go into the ninth with a 1-0 lead, only for Mark Melancon to crush all our hopes and dreams. The worst meltdown of 2022 took place at Chase on May 7. Zach Davies and two relievers had combined for eight shutout innings, and Arizona took the lead on an eighth-inning RBI double by Christian Walker.
Melancon entered and got two outs, albeit putting runners on the corners. However, he then allowed three straight singles, scoring four runs for a -80.1% WP, and leaving with a 4-1 deficit. The other case was on June 4 in Pittsburgh, and mirrored last night, with our closer entering in the bottom of the ninth with a 1-0 lead, only to let the home team walk off. Melacon did at least not create any false hope by recording what I believe are called “outs”. He went straight to the suck, going single, two-run homer. With the same situation, that got the same -80.0% WP as Kennedy last night. However, none of those even make the team’s top twenty implosions.
Brad Boxberger had a couple of juicy ones in 2018, reaching as high as -90.9% for this performance in which he turned a two-run lead into a walk-off loss in the space of three pitches. But to find the apex of closer futility, we need to go back to 2004, when Matt Mantei roamed Planet BOB. On April 18, he came in for what should have been an easy save in San Diego, with Arizona 5-2 up. 15 pitches and no outs later, he was watching Ryan Klesko circling the bases joyously, Mantei having gone single, walk, RBI single, three-run homer. Arizona’s WP had gone from 96.3% to zero. But in turn, that is only tied for 70th worst in baseball history.
Because, in certain circumstances, a reliever can be worse than -100%. That happens with a multi-inning appearance: they blow a lead, their offense gets them back ahead, and they blow another lead. The most recent such came on Opening Day this year, by Liam Hendriks of the White Sox. He came into the eighth for a four-out save, and allowed a game-tying two-run single. Chicago went 4-3 up in the top of the ninth, then Hendriks coughed up two more in the bottom for a walk-off loss. Total WP: -107.3%. But the all-time worst relief outing? Russ Christopher of the 1947 Philadelphia Athletics. He gave up a 4-2 lead in the seventh AND a 7-5 lead in the ninth for a total Win Probability of -141.5%.
Maybe Ian Kennedy wasn’t so bad after all...