The Edinson Volquez era finally ended on Tuesday, when the Padres released the erratic right-hander three days after designating him for assignment. A lot went wrong during his nearly two seasons in San Diego after coming over from the Reds as part of the package for Mat Latos. Pitching coach Darren Balsley noted that Volquez overthrew in games, which “led to mechanical breakdowns,” which led to disastrous results.

He had his moments, such as the near no-hitter in 2012 and, well, that’s about it. Bryant investigated Volquez’s “quest for control” back in March and called the pitcher an “infuriating combination of top-level talent with lackluster results.” As Padres Trail more recently put it, “So long and thanks for all the walks.”

Volquez tied for the MLB lead in walks in his first season with the Padres. This year he cut his walk rate from 5.2 to 4.4 and compensated by increasing his hit rate from 7.9 to 10.6. Oh, he found the plate all right. He led MLB in runs allowed at the time of his release, which is no small achievement given his home venue.

We suspected that Petco Park might be less forgiving in 2013 with the fences moved in, and it sort of has been (homers are way up, while runs scored haven’t changed much), but this wasn’t the issue with Volquez. Number 37 was lousy everywhere.

How lousy? I’m glad you asked.

This year, Volquez’s ERA was 6.01. He is the first pitcher in Padres history to work at least 100 innings and post an ERA over 6. The previous high had been 99, by Sean Bergman in 1997 (one of the guys we wished we’d forgotten were Padres). Nobody else was even close to Bergman:

Player Year IP ERA
Edinson Volquez 2013 142.1 6.01
Sean Bergman 1997 99.0 6.09
Tim Lollar 1981 76.2 6.10
Al Santorini 1970 75.2 6.07
Mark Thurmond 1986 70.2 6.50

As did Volquez in 2008, some of these guys pitched well at times. Santorini is a fun name. I wrote about him a lot when I revisited the Padres 1969 season. We’ll return to him in a moment.

First, here are the five highest ERAs in club history by pitchers who worked at least 300 innings:

Player Years IP ERA
Bobby Jones 2001-2002 303.0 5.26
Kevin Jarvis 2001-2003 320.1 5.06
Edinson Volquez 2012-2013 325.0 4.96
Matt Clement 1998-2000 399.1 4.82
Kevin Correia 2009-2010 343.0 4.54

As battle cries go, “Better than Bobby Jones and Kevin Jarvis” lacks a certain je ne sais quois. It’s too much cry, not enough battle.

It also ignores context. Jones and Jarvis pitched in a tougher environment. If we use ERA+, which accounts for league offensive levels and park effects, Volquez rises to the top like a fastball out of the strike zone:

Player Years IP ERA+
Edinson Volquez 2012-2013 325.0 71
Bobby Jones 2001-2002 303.0 74
Kevin Jarvis 2001-2003 320.1 78
Bill Greif 1972-1976 645.0 78
Steve Arlin 1969-1974 745.0 81
Mike Corkins 1969-1974 459.1 81

If you’re looking for silver linings, here’s one: At least the Padres didn’t give Volquez 320 more innings to prove he was worse than Bill Greif.

Even better, the Dodgers have signed Volquez (no, I’m not kidding), which means he could qualify for the league ERA title and do something special. Since 1901, only two qualifiers have posted an ERA+ under 60. Volquez is seeking to become the third, and the first in 98 years:

Player Year IP ERA+
Gene Wright 1903 162.2 58
Rube Bressler 1915 178.1 56
Edinson Volquez 2013 142.1 57

Thank you, Ned Colletti.

In Volquez’s final start with the Padres, last Friday against the Cubs, he allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning. This marked the 661st time since 1916–when records are first available–that a starting pitcher had allowed at least six runs without surviving the first inning.

In such games, the team whose starter imploded went 40-619-2. You don’t win.

Except the Padres did, becoming the first team to pull the trick since Cleveland weathered a Paul Byrd shelling and beat the Royals, seven years to the day earlier. Between those two contests, teams whose starters met our parameters lost 45 straight.

The Padres have seen their starter allow at least six runs without surviving the first six times:

Player Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER HR BB K
Al Santorini 5/5/70 Phi W 11-8 0.1 4 6 5 1 1 0
Mark Thurmond 5/18/86 Mtl L 3-8 0.0 5 6 6 1 1 0
Dennis Tankersley 4/9/03 SF L 11-15 0.0 3 7 7 0 4 0
Brian Tollberg 6/10/03 Cle L 5-8 0.1 2 6 3 0 3 0
Tim Redding 5/8/05 StL L 5-15 0.2 5 8 8 0 3 0
Edinson Volquez 8/23/13 ChN W 8-6 0.2 5 6 5 1 2 0

I wrote about the Tankersley game. His quote could apply to Volquez as well: “For some stupid reason, I just keep making the same stupid mistakes, which I can’t keep doing.”

I wrote about the Tollberg game, although my “insight” was that the Padres should get Scott Linebrink into the rotation. Also that Sean Burroughs was going to be awesome and Khalil Greene homered in his Triple-A debut. Yeah, I’m old.

I didn’t write about the Redding game, but did note that he was placed on the disabled list afterward, which gave Tim Stauffer the opportunity to make his big-league debut. Several years later I saw Redding pitch in Albuquerque. It filled me with great sadness, like when I saw Brian Lawrence and Paul McAnulty play in Tucson. Baseball is hard.

Meanwhile, there’s our friend Santorini, “leading” the Padres to victory. (I didn’t write about that one; dude, it was my first birthday.) So when the Padres defeated the Cubs last Friday night at Petco, it marked the second time in franchise history that they overcame a starting pitcher getting destroyed.

This is Volquez’s legacy. Maybe you miss him, but he misses you more. Then again, he misses everything.

* * *

What is your “fondest” memory of Volquez’s time in San Diego? Leave a comment, send an email (geoff@sonofaduck.com), or hit me up on Twitter (@ducksnorts).

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  • Geoff Hancock

    My father in law was out to visit a few months ago and we happened to catch a Volquez start on tv. While watching, Volquez did typical Volquez things. Then, at some point a fly ball is hit to left center field and drops in, in part due to poor communication in the OF. Volquez glared out to the OF with a look of utter disgust. Well, at this my father in law had had enough. He said, to no one in particular, “This guy throws like that and thinks he can show up the OF’ers? WHO IS THIS GUY?” That’s Edinson Volquez.

    • Geoff Young

      That’s perfect. Your father-in-law should have written this article; he said as much as I did in far less space.

  • Brian Stoops

    I was at the 19 July 2012 one hit Volq bonanza. He looked brilliant that night—after the infield hit, I remember thinking “with the way he’s pitching, that’s going to end up being the only one. Damn” It may have been influenced by a similar grandiose, but successful claim I made in a King Felix start earlier that season (5 May), but by god, if I said that I didn’t think it was a turnaround in the making for EV, I’d be lying. For a fleeting five days, I was excited about Volq finding Volq. “He could build off that start so well. This is all he needed!” That didn’t last.

    Of course, the saddest part of it all is losing the #EVHAU. I’ve passed it on to my Dodger faithful crowd. Hopefully, they treat the responsibilities of such an important tag well.

    Great article, Geoff. Thanks!

    • Geoff Young

      Thanks, Brian; I’m glad you enjoyed the article and sorry your prediction of a turnaround didn’t come true. “Volq finding Volq” sounds nice. Too bad it was just more Volq.

  • Lonnie Brownell

    AJM needs to update this to blue and white (and white and blue) and get the word out to Dodger fans. Take their money, please.

    http://avengingjackmurphy.spreadshirt.com/dorado-edinquez-volson-A10610339/customize/color/120

  • Sac Bunt Melvin

    My fondest memory was thinking about how awesome it was that every time I looked up, Edinson’s hat was at a different angle.

    • ballybunion

      I’ve been thinking of that observation for days. I think you may have discovered the secret of Eddie’s inconsistency. Just don’t tell the Dodgers that glueing his hat on his head will straighten him out.

  • pat

    Geoff, you’re amazing! Thank you.