In terms of actual talent, the worst major-league pitchers are the ones that play only a handful, or maybe even just one singular game. The fact that they get a shot and that team, or any other team, aren’t willing to give that person more shots is telling.
However, the pitchers who are more memorable for being bad usually have an extended career. Lou McEvoy falls more in this camp. He doesn’t have the Yankee record for highest ERA or anything. However, he pitched a lot, and was bad, and might be the worst Yankee pitcher ever.
McEvoy started out in professional baseball in 1926 with the Chattanooga Lookouts. After two years with them, he played a bit for the Albany Senators, and eventually ended up with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. It was when he was in Oakland where he posted a 3.83 ERA in 329 innings in 1929, and found himself on the New York Yankees the next season.
McEvoy made his major-league debut April 28, 1930, pitching two innings out of the bullpen. The next day, he threw 1.2 scoreless innings. His ERA sat at 2.45 in 3.2 innings. That’s the lowest it would ever be in his career.
On May 23, 1930, McEvoy reportedly took part in tests at West Point where he was recorded throwing a ball at 150 feet per second, which is 102 miles per hour. Considering it was 1930, the accuracy of those tests is definitely questionable.
If that was a real speed McEvoy was measured at, it didn’t translate to success in game action. Over the course of May, McEvoy pitched 4.1 innings, and allowed six runs on seven hits and four walks. He gave up three runs in 0.1 innings on June 11. With his ERA now up to 10.80 in 8.1 innings, McEvoy wouldn’t seen game action again until mid-July.
Over the course of the rest of the season, McEvoy had slightly better results. High emphasis on the “slightly”. He finished the 1930 season with a 6.71 ERA in 52.1 innings.
McEvoy would be brought back for the 1931 season; however, his outings would only get worse. He started off by allowing one run on two hits in an inning on April 29, 1931. Then a couple days later, he threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Washington Senators.
On May 25, 1931, Yankees starter Roy Sherid was chased from the game after allowing seven runs in 0.2 innings. McEvoy came in for him, but his run of okay outings stopped with his appearance in this game. He ended up pitching four innings, allowing nine runs on ten hits and five walks, as the Yankees lost 16-4.
He then allowed seven runs in 4.1 innings in June. He made one last appearance in the majors on July 26, 1931. Weirdly enough it was this game where he had his arguably best major league performance. He threw two scoreless innings, allowing just one runner on a walk.
Lou McEvoy’s major league career ended after 1931. He finished his career with a 7.79 ERA in 64.2 innings. More incredible was his career WHIP of 1.918. He essentially put two runners on in every inning he pitched. In his 64.2 innings, McEvoy managed to accrue -1.8 Baseball Reference WAR. His -1.8 total is only the eighth worst total for a pitcher in Yankee history. However, every pitcher ahead of him has nearly or more than double the innings pitched.
McEvoy played five more seasons in the minor leagues. He even ended up back in the Yankees’ system in 1935. He had a 2.20 ERA in 16.1 innings, but didn’t get a call back to New York.
The 1930 and ‘31 seasons both fell in the live-ball era in major league baseball. McEvoy was definitely victim. A 7.71 ERA is pretty bad, but it did equate to just a 55 ERA+. He was far from the only pitcher getting shelled in those years.
Skill-wise Lou McEvoy is probably not the worst Yankee pitcher ever. They probably wouldn’t have given him 60+ innings if he was. However, it’s the 60+ innings that might make him the worst Yankee pitcher ever.
All data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index