The Best and Worst Opening Day Starts in Phillies History

Having had anywhere from two to four legitimate aces in the starting rotation over the last four seasons, it is easy to forget that pitching wasn’t always the Phillies’ forte. Between the bookends of Curt Schilling and Roy Halladay, the Phillies gave Opening Day starts to Andy Ashby, Omar Daal, Robert Person, Kevin Millwood, Jon Lieber, and Brett Myers. And unlike Halladay’s ace-like performance in the openers of each of the last three seasons, the Phillies haven’t always seen such sterling outings.

Below is a list of the worst Opening Day starts (using game score) by Phillies pitchers dating back to 1916.

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 Jon Lieber 2006-04-03   STL L 5-13 GS-4 ,L 3.1 9 8 8 1 3 1 73 48 12
2 Steve Carlton 1986-04-07   CIN L 4-7 GS-5 ,L 4.0 9 7 7 2 0 2 14
3 Robin Roberts 1960-04-12   CIN L 4-9 GS-5 ,L 4.1 7 8 8 2 0 2 15
4 Hal Carlson 1927-04-12 NYG L 7-15 4.1 7 8 7 3 0 1 16
5 Elmer Jacobs 1919-04-23 NYG L 7-10 9.0 15 10 6 4 0 2 21
6 Oscar Judd 1946-04-16   NYG L 4-8 1.2 6 6 4 2 1 2 22
7 Curt Davis 1935-04-16   BRO L 3-12 4.0 7 6 6 1 1 1 24
8 Ken Raffensberger 1945-04-17   BRO L 2-8 GS-5 ,L 4.0 7 5 5 4 1 0 25
9 Hal Elliott 1931-04-14   NYG L 5-9 6.1 10 7 6 4 3 1 26
10 Al Gerheauser 1943-04-24 BRO L 4-11 4.0 7 5 5 3 2 0 27
11 Steve Carlton 1979-04-06 STL L 1-8 GS-7 ,L 6.1 9 7 7 3 4 1 28
12 Chris Short 1969-04-08   CHC L 6-7 GS-4 4.0 6 5 5 2 0 2 28
13 Wayne LaMaster 1938-04-19   BRO L 5-12 7.2 11 8 8 2 5 2 28
14 Jumbo Elliott 1934-04-17   NYG L 1-6 2.0 5 4 4 3 1 0 28
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2013.

With Cole Hamels on the hill today in Atlanta, facing Braves starter Tim Hudson, the Phillies can be reasonably certain they won’t add anything more to the above list.

Just to present both sides of the coin, here are the best Opening Day starts in Phillies history:

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 Chris Short 1968-04-10   LAD W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 0 10 0 89
2 Chris Short 1965-04-12   HOU W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 3 11 0 87
3 Curt Schilling 1998-03-31   NYM L 0-1 GS-8 8.0 2 0 0 1 9 0 121 81 86
4 Curt Schilling 1997-04-01 LAD W 3-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 2 0 0 3 11 0 86
5 Roy Halladay 2012-04-05 PIT W 1-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 2 0 0 0 5 0 92 65 83
6 Art Mahaffey 1963-04-09 CIN W 2-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 4 1 1 3 10 0 129 87 82
7 Les Sweetland 1930-04-15   BRO W 1-0 9.0 3 0 0 1 2 0 82
8 Terry Mulholland 1993-04-05   HOU W 3-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 4 1 0 1 3 0 104 75 79
9 Robin Roberts 1955-04-13   NYG W 4-2 CG 9 ,W 9.0 3 2 0 2 4 0 79
10 Steve Carlton 1984-04-03   ATL W 5-0 GS-7 ,W 7.0 2 0 0 1 6 0 78
11 Chris Short 1970-04-07   CHC W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 0 2 3 0 78
12 Kirby Higbe 1940-04-16   NYG W 3-1 9.0 3 1 1 3 4 0 78
13 Dutch Leonard 1948-04-20   BSN W 3-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 6 1 0 1 4 0 76
14 Curt Davis 1936-04-14   BSN W 4-1 9.0 4 1 1 3 4 0 76
15 Erskine Mayer 1918-04-16   BSN W 5-2 9.0 5 2 1 2 6 0 75
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2013.

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2 comments

  1. TomG

    April 01, 2013 12:40 PM

    Did Doc have a better start than that opening game last year? I doubt it. I remember thinking, “Well, so much for those reports during Spring training that he’s lost something this year ….” Would it had turned out so.

    He really did do and amazing job that day, though.

  2. Tim

    April 01, 2013 12:55 PM

    I’ve been to a lot of disappointing Opening Days, but I guess I’m semi-proud to have been at the worst one on the list. It’s the only game I’ve ever left early, and not because it was so bad, but because it was my Dad’s birthday and I had to get to dinner at his house. And after watching all of the terribleness, I left right before the only bright spot of the game – Jimmy’s 8th inning double to continue his 30-some game hit streak that he’d started the previous season.

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