20-year-old Clayton Kershaw made his major league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, limiting St. Louis to two runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out seven Cardinals and walked just one. In light of that impressive performance by one of baseball’s top prospects, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the best pitchers of the past twenty or so years and see how they fared in three areas: first batter faced, first game, and first season.
For Kershaw, we know two of those pieces – the first batter he faced, Skip Schumaker, struck out, and the pitching line for his debut is above – but only time will tell on number three.
Roger Clemens (21)
First Batter: Brett Butler (groundout to first, unassisted)
First Game: 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 11 H, 4 K, 3 BB
First Season: 9-4, 4.32 ERA, 126 K, 133.1 IP
Greg Maddux (20)
First Batter: Craig Reynolds (groundout to second)
First Game: 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 K
First Season: 2-4, 5.52 ERA, 20 K, 31.0 IP
Okay, Maddux’s major league debut fascinates me because he didn’t make his first appearance as a pitcher. Instead, he pinch-ran in the 17th inning of a 7-7 game against the Houston Astros – a game that had originally been started by Nolan Ryan and Jamie Moyer (did they supply the pitchers with water from the Fountain of Youth that day?). Maddux took the mound for the first time the following inning, gave up a homerun to the second batter he faced, Billy Hatcher, and received the loss. Five days later he made his first start, going the distance against Cincinnati (3 ER, 11 H, 4 K, 3 BB) for the win. He also recorded two hits.
Is this common knowledge? Am I the only one who didn’t know about this unusual set of circumstances surrounding Maddux’s first games in The Show?
Tom Glavine (21)
First Batter: Gerald Young (flyout to center)
First Game: 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 10 H, 1 K, 5 BB
First Season: 2-4, 5.54 ERA, 20 K, 50.1 IP
Randy Johnson (25)
First Batter: John Cangelosi (groundout to second)
First Game: 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 5 K, 3 BB
First Season: 3-0, 2.42 ERA, 25 K, 26.0 IP
Pedro Martinez (20)
First Batter: Reggie Sanders (foulout to catcher)
First Game: 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 K, 1 BB
First Season: 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 8 K, 8 IP