In yesterday’s ninth inning, Sam Dyson came in with a lead, and left with a loss. It’s the second time that’s happened. Another time, he came in with a tie, and left with a loss. Another time, he came in with a lead, and left with a tie. Dyson has so far pitched in six games, and he’s been charged with four of what we call Meltdowns. He has zero saves, three blown saves, three losses, and a 27.00 ERA. The Rangers are probably going to give Dyson a break from closing, not because they necessarily think he’s toast, but because at some point you just need to make a change so that Dyson doesn’t completely lose confidence.
Dyson has two scoreless appearances, both of which came in low-leverage spots. He’s been a nightmare in the four higher-leverage spots. Of Dyson’s seven worst career appearances, as ranked by Win Probability Added, four have come in the last two weeks, with Dyson owning a total -2.6 WPA. The next-worst mark in baseball right now is Steve Pearce‘s -1.2. The next-worst mark for a pitcher right now is Xavier Cedeno’s -1.1. Dyson, already, has been a win and a half worse than the next-most harmful player.
It’s natural to wonder about historical context. And I couldn’t find a real clean way to look this up, but I’ve done the best I could, using the Baseball-Reference Play Index. Looking at pitchers only, I searched for the worst starts to seasons, by WPA, through a team’s first 12 games. And assuming I did everything correctly, Dyson is the big winner, or the big loser. I couldn’t find a pitcher with a worse 12-team-game WPA than Dyson’s -2.6. The closest I found was -2.0, belonging to 2011 Matt Thornton. If this is correct, then Dyson has had the worst such start by more than half a win. It’s a weird and oddly specific stat query, but it might be helpful to know that Dyson’s troubles have indeed been historic in magnitude. Nobody else on record has struggled like this in circumstances like his.
As a certain amount of consolation: Matt Thornton that one year allowed 10 runs in his first 4.2 innings. Opponents managed a 1.061 OPS. From Thornton’s next outing onward, his ERA was 2.95, and opponents managed a paltry .594 OPS. Thornton got himself back on track, as if nothing had ever happened. The Rangers probably figure Dyson should be able to do the same. In the short-term, though, expect them to protect themselves, just in case. So much damage — so much damage — has already been done.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.