Braves righty has lost 16 straight decisions, is winless in 24 starts in a row
By Michael Clair
It would be an understatement to say that Shelby Miller isn't exactly the luckiest player in baseball.
Although the Braves right-hander could set career-bests in ERA and ERA+ across a personal-high 197 1/3 innings, he's also 5-17 on the season.
Miller, who allowed seven runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings in the Braves' 9-5 loss against the Marlins on Sunday, has now lost 16 consecutive decisions and has gone 24 starts since his most recent victory. For those who are counting, the latter mark is just four behind the all-time record (more on that below). Although we know that pitcher wins are largely reflective of team -- not individual -- performance, that's still quite the unfortunate run.
There is no easy explanation for it, either. In 10 of Miller's past 24 starts, he's gone at least six innings while surrendering two earned runs or fewer. And though the Braves have struggled this year, the club has gone 3-21 during Miller's victory-less skid, compared to 40-53 in all other games in the span.
But if there is a bright side to which Miller can look, it's this: Luck is part of the game. Here' a look at some of baseball's "unluckiest" streaks.
Anthony Young's 27 straight losses
Mets pitcher Anthony Young lost an absurd 27 consecutive decisions from May 6, 1992 to July 24, 1993. Moved from the rotation to the closer's role in the middle of that stretch, Young managed to pick up 16 saves in that span, which totaled 77 games and 171 1/3 innings.
Young finally picked up the 'W' against the Marlins on July 28, 1993, but he nearly lost that one, too. In relief, Young gave up an unearned run in the top of the ninth to give the Florida Marlins a 4-3 lead before Ryan Thompson and Eddie Murray drove in runs in the bottom half to bail him out.
Jo-Jo Reyes and Matt Keough's 28 winless starts
So, as you just read, Young may be the unluckiest player of all time. And even though he snapped his losing streak in 1993, he would carry a 27-start winless skid until 1994, when he was with the Cubs. That run of ignominy ranks as the second-longest in history, one behind winless runs from Jo-Jo Reyes (of the Braves and Blue Jays) and the Athletics' Matt Keough.
Keough's streak -- which persisted from Sept. 6, 1978 to Aug. 8, 1979 -- shockingly came on the heels of his lone All-Star appearance in '78. After finishing '79 with a 2-17 record, Keough would tie for the big league lead in losses three years later, when he went 11-18. Some people are, as Ray Charles would say, born to lose.
Reyes would tie Keough's mark in 2011, with his streak crossing parts of four seasons. At least the universe seemed to take pity on Reyes, as he managed to snap his streak in complete-game fashion on May 30, 2011, against the Indians.
Craig Counsell's 0-for-45
In 2011, Counsell, who is now the Brewers' manager, became the third non-pitcher in history to go 0-for-45. To put that in perspective, that's roughly a half-month of at-bats for an everyday player. In doing so, Counsell tied the all-time mark held by catcher Bill Bergen and utility infielder Dave Campbell, two men who seemed far more likely to lead such a list.
Bergen was considered one of the finest defenders behind the dish at the turn of the 20th century, but his career OPS looks like a typo at just .395. Meanwhile, his OPS+ in his final three seasons -- with a mark of 100 being average -- are as follows: one, six and negative three. Meanwhile, Campbell -- given the highly creative nickname of Soup -- received more than 400 plate appearances just twice during a career that he completed with a .213/.272/.311 slash line.
Compare them to Counsell -- a man with enough talent to accrue nearly 5,500 career plate appearances (and an National League Championship Series MVP Award in 2001, too!) Amazingly, he struck out just five times during his 0-fer.
Andy Fox's off-base streak
At least Counsell managed to draw a walk in the middle of his streak. Andy Fox, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. The utility man went 40 consecutive plate appearances without reaching base from April 28-Oct. 3, 2004.
Not only was that Oct. 3 game, when Fox lined out in his first at-bat, the final day of the year, it was also the last game of Fox's career. At least he got to go out on a high note with a single in the fifth.
Phillies lose 23 straight
The 1961 Phillies finished with a Majors-worst 47-107-1 record after finishing tied for last in runs per game and tied for second to last in runs allowed per game. That said, it's still incredibly difficult to lose 23 games in a row. The '16 Philadelphia Athletics, who hold the modern record for lowest winning percentage at .235, topped out at 20 in a row. Those hapless '62 Mets never lost more than 17.
But the '61 Phillies couldn't catch a break. After winning the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants on July 28, the team wouldn't win again until the second game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Braves on Aug. 20.
So don't worry, Shelby. As history has shown us, you'll get another win … eventually.
Michael Clair is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @clairbearattack on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.