In a recent article for Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan noted that Steve Trachsel might be the first starter in memory to start a post-season game following a season in which he gave up more walks than had strikeouts.
With that, I decided to look it up. To be certain, it’s rare – but it’s not that far back in the memory banks.
The last starter who had more walks than strikeouts in a season and started a playoff game was Kirk Rueter in 2003, who had just 41 Ks and 47 walks in the regular season for the San Francisco Giants. He started a game against the Marlins in the first round of the playoffs.
By my count, there are 74 pitcher seasons meeting this criteria who have made 124 post-season starts in baseball history (God Bless the Lahman DB and Microsoft Access). The last to start in a World Series game is Mike Moore (1990). The Yankees had a ton of guys like that in the Casey Stengel era (Don Larsen in 57 and 55, Allie Reynolds, others), six starts were made in the 1936 World Series by pitchers who meet this criteria, including Lefty Gomez who made two starts. Carl Mays (3) and Fred Toney (2) had five of the six starts made in the 1921 series that featured three starters with more walks than Ks. Even a George Ruth started in the 1918 World Series, a season in which he passed more batters than he fanned.
If you excuse the 24 starts that were made prior to the 1903 World Series, Reuter’s start was the 100th such postseason start in baseball history.