This started out the first, and somehow ended up finishing last in a rather undistinguished Philadelphia Phillies pitching trilogy.
When I embarked upon this post, Adam Eaton was still a bona fide starting pitcher in the major leagues. Time, procrastination and some spectacularly inept pitching has robbed him of that honor.
But Adam Eaton was more than just a serial heartbreaker bent on derailing the Phillies’ flickering pennant hopes. Look at the poor son of a bitch. He has the body language of a man who spent a generation in a Soviet gulag.
It’s become part of his nature, the hat off the slumping head, the practiced mask of chagrin.
But the Phillies have taken Adam away from us. It seemed it would never happen, that no matter how many two-out, two-run doubles he gave up to feared sluggers like Randy Johnson, Adam Eaton would always have a place in the Phillies’ rotation.
And she should have.
Adam Eaton is a machine. At least he was, until the Phillies lost their collective minds and went in search of the new Adam Eaton, who goes by the name of Joe Blanton.
Adam Eaton was more than your garden-variety bad starting pitcher.
He was more than just the worst starting pitcher on his own team – no insignificant feat on a team that sent its opening day starter to the minors for an extended therapy session.
No, Adam Eaton’s more than that. Much more.
He distinguished himself in 49 starts for the Phillies since signing a three-year deal prior to the 2007 season. How distinguished?
Adam Eaton was the worst starter in all of the major leagues.
Since joining the Phillies, Eaton’s gone 13-18 with a 6.06 ERA. Without out the great statistical arsenal of the Elias Sports Bureau at our disposal, we can only say it’s likely that Eaton was the only full-time starter to post an ERA over 6.00 and have kept his job in that period.
Then came Black Friday, when the Phillies officially gave him his marching orders that will take him to the bullpen.
The worst starter in the majors.
Thirty teams, 150 starters.
You have to do some work to claw your way to the bottom of that inglorious heap.
But being the worst starting pitcher in the majors is more than just malleable statistics. It takes heart, guile and selflessness.
But Adam put in the work. He took the ball every fifth day. He never malingered, never missed a turn.
He was routinely awful. And through it all, he never complained.
Adam Eaton had it all.
More often than not, his team was behind before the first inning was over. In six of his final seven starts, he allowed at least two runs in the first inning.
That’s enough, coupled with a 6.06 ERA in 49 starts, to earn him the title as The Worst Starter in the Majors.
Except he’s not a starter anymore. But he was. The worst.
Worse than Miguel Batista (20-22, 5.07 in 47 starts over the same period).
Worse even than Mark Hendrickson (11-15, 5.62, 34 starts).
And both of those fellas lost their full-time jobs while Eaton was still going out there every fifth day, reliable as the sunrise.
Now he’s gone.
After earning $11,826,131.16 in base salary for his 49 starts as a Philadelphia Phillie, Eaton has been disappeared to the oblivion of the bullpen.
A star has fallen in the Western sky. May it yet rise again, with ever-returning spring.