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Jordan Lyles Finally Got His Win, Against The Rays Of All Teams

Jordan Lyles of the Royals pitching
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images|

This is the most exciting photo of Jordan Lyles available from Saturday’s game.

The American League's phalanx of All-Star Game pitchers is sufficiently prodigious—Shane McClanahan, Gerrit Cole, Framber Valdez, Joe Ryan, etc.—that we needn't look too hard to fill out the last couple of spots. But here's one idea to fulfill the 30-team requirement: Jordan Lyles of the Kansas City Not Very Royals.

Lyles, the well-seasoned and formerly crafty right-hander who has served faithfully and fitfully for 13 years as an Astro, Rockie, Padre, Brewer, Pirate, Brewer again, Ranger, and Oriole, has been taking a series of religion-inspiring beatings this season en route to an 0-11 record that was bringing up largely unknown names like Terry Felton (0-13 with the 1982 Twins en route to an 0-16 career record, albeit with some abominable Minnesota teams). Lyles had a chance to be one of the most cursed-at pitchers in baseball history, and by a fairly inspiring margin.

Then he went out Saturday afternoon and pitched better than Yonny Chirinos to receive his first win of the season, against the league-best Tampa Bay Rays, thus saving himself the ignominy of being the Bill Stearns of this century. Stearns was by any measure one of the great sacrificial bovines of the game, beginning his career in 1872 with the first of the five editions of the Washington Nationals at age 19 and losing all 11 of the team's games before they decided to stop playing entirely.

Stearns then moved to the Washington Blue Legs where he started 32 of that team's 39 games before they folded; he was 7-25 in those games. In 1874 he relocated to Hartford to play with the Dark Blues, and though he alone couldn't make that team die (they did the next season), he did go 3-14. With the second incarnation of the Nationals in 1875, he went 1-14, making half the team's starts before—yes, you correctly divined the punchline—that team and the other 12 teams in the National Association all folded.

Lyles cannot be that now; for one, nobody thinks the Royals are going any lower in the ground than the basement. But he won't be Felton either, or Russ Miller of the 1928 Phillies, or Steve Gerkin of the 1945 A's, who both went 0-12 on dreadful Philly-based eyesores. He won't even be any members of the vaunted 1899 Cleveland Spiders starting rotation of Jim Hughey, Charlie Knepper, Frank Bates, Crazy Schmit, and Harry Colliflower, who combined for a 12-98 record. By the way, Schmit's nickname is listed as "Germany," and since "Crazy" was not his birth name, it makes us wonder what the hell is playing at here.

Lyles doesn't have that cool a name, though he does still have a chance to be Jose DeLeon (2-19 for the 1985 Pirates but still had another decade ahead of him), or Jim Abbott (the one-handed pitcher who went 2-18 with the Angels in 1996), but that would require the continuation of his first-half tortures. He could also be Joan Adon, the Nationals phenom of a year ago who lost 12 of his 14 starts before being mercifully demoted. That would be objectively worse.

But we digress. After masterminding his way through the Rays yesterday, Lyles has built enough ballyard cred to be the Royals' representative at the All-Star Game on perseverance alone. I mean, it's not like the Royals are giving us any superior alternatives. Win-loss record has largely been debunked as a valuable metric, but as a novelty it's still old-school fun to cite, especially when you're trying to do something as demonstrably silly as rounding out a hypothetical pitching staff for the All-Star Game.

And if Lyles miraculously turns his season around and finishes, say 12-11, well ... Felix Hernandez won the 2010 Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record in Seattle. This somehow seems doable in some universe, so it may as well be ours. There have been crazier notions, and not just Schmit.

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