By Marc Lawrence……Fireworks and the MLB All-Star game go hand-in-hand during the month of July. It also denotes the start of the 2nd half of the MLB campaign. And as we’ve come to learn the key to each and every team’s fortune lies on the pitching staff if you are betting baseball. Can they sustain or will they unravel like Mark McGwire at a baseball hearing? Stay tuned. What we do know is certain pitchers love hurling this time of the season while others tend to get lit up like a roman candle on the 4th of July.
Listed below are hurlers that have enjoyed a two-to-one or better success ratio in team-starts over the course of the last three seasons during the month of July. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in July, winning 33% percent or less of their team-start efforts. To qualify pitchers must have made a minimum of 10 starts, with at least one start each July over the last three years. And for your convenience alongside each record we break down each pitcher’s greatest success or greatest failure rate either home (H) or away (A) within his good or bad month.
Note: * designates a categorical repeat appearance by this pitcher, maintaining status quo from last season’s July list.
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
*Chen, Wei-Yin • 9-4 (5-1 H)
The Miami left-hander has not been terribly effective with an ERA hovering around 5. If Chen can develop more command, he’s shown again this year he’s tough when in challenging situations, allowing .186 batting average and .271 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position.
Garza, Matt • 9-3 (5-1 H)
Since coming back from spring training injury on June 14th, the Milwaukee right-hander has been a mix of good and bad, but come through when it counted. Opposing hitters are batting over .300 against Garza, but he’s held those runners in check and induced a heavy dose of ground balls which have led to outs. If he continues, this Brewers starter might be effective.
Greinke, Zack • 11-4 (6-2 H)
Though Arizona is falling short of preseason expectations, the Diamondbacks ace is not and other than Clayton Kershaw, has arguably been as effective as any pitcher since the end of April with batters hitting around .200 against him. Once again his array of pitches are finding the right spots and fastball is cooking!
Kazmir, Scott • 10-5 (6-2 H)
When Kazmir misses on location for fastball, the other team’s lineup begins to look for off-speed stuff, which has caused his inconsistency this season. When he’s working the corners on the knees early in the count, this sets up secondary pitches. In the past he’s done so in July, let’s see what he comes up this time.
*Kershaw, Clayton • 12-3 (8-0 A)
When Kershaw loses or a has a less than stellar performance, which is infrequent, it is home page news on most sports websites. With opponents batting just .185 against him, baseball’s best pitcher has close to as many home runs surrendered (6) as walks (9) to start the month over 121 innings.
Since winning Cy Young in 2014, Kluber has not been able to match magical season, but is part of a very good Cleveland rotation. Looking ahead, if the Indians righty can do a better job than permitting .281 batting averages with runners in scoring position, all his numbers will drop and his victories will go up.
Note: Kluber’s numbers above reflect his career team mark during July.
*Liriano, Francisco • 12-2 (7-0 H)
After several fine seasons with Pittsburgh, Liriano has not been effective in 2016. Walks and home runs have done him in and in order to reflect past results of July, he’s going to stop leaving pitches in the heart of the plate.
Peralta, Wily • 8-4 (5-1 H)
Peralta has been thoroughly ineffective all season (6.68 ERA) and was sent to minors after June 11th start. His return this month or this season depends on his Triple-A results.
Note: Peralta’s numbers above reflect his career team mark during July.
Price, David • 11-5 (7-1 A)
To date, the Boston lefty could be described as a mild disappointment, with an ERA of 4.5 to 5 most of the season. No longer owning an upper 90′s heater, Price does not blow away as many hitters as before and the fastball lacks some of the previous movement of the past. The slider has not had the usual bite from start to start. Red Sox need this ace to be one.
Ross, Tyson • 10-4 (4-1 H)
Ross has not pitched since he hit the DL with right shoulder inflammation after first start in April. San Diego Union reports a return even this month appears optimistic.
Note: Ross’ numbers above reflect his career team mark during July.
Santana, Ervin • 11-4 (8-1 H)
Like his teammates, Santana is not having a good year, as opposing hitters are clocking him for nearly .300 average, compared to .256 over his 11-year career. Little reason to believe this month will match the past even if he improves with this Twins club.
*Volquez, Edinson • 10-5 (6-1 A)
Never a frontline hurler, Volquez numbers this campaign have matched the Royals, being very ordinary to date. The Dominican Republic native has do the job against right-handed batters, who have been knocking him around for nearly .300 average.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Wood, Alex • 4-8 (0-6 A)
Wood was initially expected to be shut down for four weeks after landing on the 15-day disabled list at the end of May with a posterior impingement in his throwing elbow. Currently, the time table is for mid-July return, but the oft-injured pitcher can hardly be counted on as record shows.
Note: Wood’’s numbers above reflect his career team mark during July.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of VegasProInsidersDaily.com