[Red] Donahue, of St. Louis, has already taken a little practice at Sportsman's Park. The sorrel-topped boy expects to give a good account of himself this season.
-Sporting Life, March 27, 1897
In 1897, at the young age of 24, Red Donahue had a terrible year. That season, he led the League in losses, hits allowed, home runs allowed, and earned runs allowed. That sounds pretty bad and it was. But he also lead the League in complete games and was second in innings pitched. Every time the Browns needed Donahue to take the ball, he did and there's value in that, as demonstrated by the fact that his WAR was "only" -0.3. His FIP was 4.65, compared to an actual ERA of 6.13. Shockingly, Donahue was actually statistically better in 1897 than he had been in 1896 but I think the difference there mostly comes from the fact that he pitched about eighty more innings in 1897 than the previous season. But it was a bad year and, according to Dave Nemec, Donahue's thirty-five loses in 1897 are a post-1892 record.
Donahue was not the worst pitcher on the club - which speaks to depth of the Browns' pitching problems - and he had a decent career ahead of him. What I see is a young pitcher who got roughed up at age twenty-three and twenty four, while playing for a really bad club. If you take those two years out, Donahue's career record is 147-116 with a career ERA under three. The guy was a good pitcher who got thrown to the wolves at a young age and the wolves ate him. The Browns had a good, young pitcher on their hands but gave up on him too soon.
After his playing career was over, Donahue, who had graduated from Villanova, would coach at Yale and LaSalle, before dying of tuberculosis at age thirty-nine.