By Marc Lawrence………With the MLB trading deadline officially closed, and the NFL preseason whetting our pigskin palates, the month of August sets the table for the stretch run of the baseball season. Which pitchers can we count on to satisfy our tastes, and which ones figure to sour our stomachs? Take a look below at August Good Month/Bad Month Pitchers.
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 August. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in August, 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 April 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 August list.
I’ll be back next month with September’s Good Month Pitchers. Until then, as the legendary Neil Diamond would say, enjoy the hot August nights.
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
*Buehrle, Mark • 11-5 (5-2 A)
If Toronto fails to make the post-season, it will not be Buehrle’s fault since he had another strong season as a middle of pack starter for the Blue Jays. On July 26th he walked his first batter in 127 he faced over the prior month and that outing ended a streak of 11 consecutive quality starts. Highly dependable.
*Gallardo, Yovani • 10-3 (6-1 A)
After pitching well in May and June, July was bumpy for this Texas hurler who longer has the blazing fastball. On the season, his numbers are fairly typical of his career and if the Rangers score a few more times, Gallardo could bounce back.
*Hamels, Cole • 11-5 (5-2 A)
Hamels will be joining the Texas Rangers and all indications are he will take the ball either Aug. 1st or 2nd. His last start was historic, a no-hitter and besides the two walks, no ball put in play was really close to being a hit. Being on a better team with immediate brighter future might well propel the lefty to a strong close of the season.
Iwakuma, Hisashi • 11-5 (6-2 A)
Iwakuma struggled when first coming off the DL, but turned in terrific work over three starts, allowing just four runs on 14 hits and four walks while striking out 18 in 20.2 innings. However, he was clobbered for six runs and 10 hits in final July outing and will attempt to get back to normal.
Kershaw, Clayton • 11-5 (6-1 A)
So much for the demise Clayton Kershaw whose ERA is as 2.48 and opposing hitters are back to hitting just over .200 against him. In July the domineering lefty pitched 33 innings, allowing 19 hits, striking out 45, walking only two and surrendered ONE earned run. (As of July 30th) August is looking pretty good.
Sanchez, Anibal • 9-4 (6-2 H)
After winning seven straight decisions (Tigers 8-0), Sanchez lost his last of July at Tampa Bay 5-2. He starts this month with an ERA of 4.61 which is his highest since 2008. The culprit has been the gopher-ball, already having allowed 22 which is a career-high.
*Scherzer, Max • 13-4 (7-0 H)
Still a great hurler, Scherzer was tagged for five runs twice last month and conceded six of the 13 homers he’s given up on the season. Chances are he will be his usual self with more big games coming up in August. Opposing hitters batting only .193 against him.
*Shields, James • 12-5 (7-1 A)
After starting 7-0, Shields is 1-4 since. Though San Diego has only won two of his last eight starts since that time, his ERA has only gone up slightly and his ERA for July was 2.50.
Strasburg, Stephen • 13-3 (7-1 H)
Been on the DL since July 5th with an oblique strain and made rehab start on July 29th. Expected to return this month but all bets are off on his true effectiveness.
Tillman, Chris • 12-5 (4-1 A)
Tillman has found his groove since being hammered for six runs on six hits on June 21st, not allowing more than two runs in five starts. Biggest difference is the right-hander is averaging almost 10 ground-ball outs compared to six in five previous starts and strikeouts also are up. Should have strong August.
Zimmermann, Jordan • 12-5 (7-2 H)
When watching Zimmermann, it always seems his record should be better. Starting the month at just 8-6, the two most notable stats that catch your eye is opposing teams have a higher OBP against him (.311 vs. career .295) and his strikeouts are on pace to be the lowest of his career. If Washington is to win the NL East and make the World Series, Zimmermann has to produce.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Alvarez, Henderson • 3-10 (1-4 A)
Alvarez has been diagnosed with a tear in his right shoulder and will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery,
Eovaldi, Nate • 5-12 (1-7 H)
His 10-2 record is a bit suspect with a 4.27 ERA, WHIP of 1.48 and teams hitting .300 against his tosses coming into this month. But, Eovaldi has done what’s asked of him and he’s getting double digit groundball outs in his last five starts. Yankees 6-1 in his last seven starts, will it continue?
Happ, J. A. • 5-11 (2-7 A)
After becoming a surprise fifth starter for Seattle and owning a 2.98 ERA on May 15th, Happ his seen his ERA creep up to 4.64. Never a hard thrower, his problems start the third time around the batting order.
Harang, Aaron • 4-12 (1-7 H)
Harang has been on the disabled list since July 2 with plantar fasciitis and returned with five strong innings on July 30 (5 innings – one run allowed) against Atlanta, earning the victory and ending his seven-game losing streak. He’s still on a bad club and the losses are likely to continue.
*Hellickson, Jeremy • 4-13 (2-9 A)
For the first several months the Diamondbacks starter was brutal, with an ERA over 5 and every couple of fair outings led to shelling. Hellickson was sharp in July with a 1.88 ERA, but that just probably means August will be nasty for him and backers.
Hernandez, Roberto • 4-8 (1-4 H)
Made 11 starts for Houston through June 5th before being sent to bullpen where he’s been since.
*Jimenez, Ubaldo • 3-10 (1-6 A)
Jimenez will never be anything more than a back of the rotation hurler because his delivery is so hard to repeat time after time. However, for him he’s having a good season like he did in Cleveland two years ago, when he was 13-9 with 3.31 ERA. His track record is not good late in the season, let’s see what he does.
Keuchel, Dallas • 4-11 (1-4 A)
Ace of the Houston staff having a true breakout campaign and opposing hitters are just past the Mendoza Line (.200 BA) and his WHIP is under 1.00. Don’t look for his past numbers to continue.
Miley, Wade • 5-10 (3-6 H)
Miley has not come close to being the same pitcher since 2012, his first year as a starter with Arizona. This year it has been more of the same of being inconsistent in his first year with Boston and chances are he will repeat the past.
Wood, Travis • 5-13 (1-8 H)
Made a few starts early for the Cubs, before manager Joe Maddon said that was enough and Wood has been in bullpen since mid-May.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of www.vegasproinsidersdaily.com.