By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
With the MLB trading deadline closed, and the NFL preseason whetting our pigskin palates, the month of August sets the table for the stretch run of the baseball season. The question is which pitchers can we count on to satisfy our tastes, and which ones figure to sour our stomachs? Take a look below.
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, make like legendary singer and songwriter Neil Diamond and enjoy the hot August nights.
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
*Arrieta, Jake • 15-2 (8-1 A)
Since being traded away from Baltimore, this is the time of year Jake Arrieta is at his best. He might not throw as hard as he used to, but he still knows how to get hitter’s out. He along with Aaron Nola will keep Philadelphia in the hunt for an NL East title. After giving up 23 homers last year, Arrieta has done a much better job keeping the ball in the yard with just 11 allowed this season.
Colon, Bartolo • 13-5 (7-2 A)
Though Colon has enjoyed success in August, he was not 45 years old, playing in a small ballpark like Texas and on a bad team. It would be great to see him finish with a flourish, but the fact remains the Rangers are so pitching deficient, they have to depend on the veteran. Colon has played in the majors the same number of years the Braves Ronald Acuna Jr, has been alive (20).
Duffy, Danny • 11-5 (7-1 H)
After a slow start, the K.C. lefthander had 2.89 ERA in May and June, But July rolled around and Duffy regressed and his ERA is approaching 5.00 again. His command has been awful, already with a career-high in walks for the season and on pace to match or surpass the 27 home runs he conceded two years ago. With this Royals team, do expect this month to be like those of the past for Duffy.
*Kluber, Corey • 14-4 (8-1 H)
The Cleveland right-hander has been very good, but not quite as good as 2014 and 2017 when he won Cy Young’s. The biggest reason why is a balky right knee, which has caused him to leave more pitches up than usual and is why he’s already very close to a career-high in home runs allowed with two months remaining. Nevertheless, he is still one the best hurlers in baseball and with the Indians having a mostly favorable slate this month, the winning should continue.
Porcello, Rick • 10-3 (6-1 H)
To this point, Rick Porcello’s season has been a great deal like previous two. In 2016, Porcello won the Cy Young and was 22-4. Last year, the right-hander was completely the opposite and lost 17 games. This season he’s 13-4 and often pitched like he did two seasons ago. But he’s also left reminders of how bad he can be with a few incredibly bad performance this year. Expect Porcello to have a fine August, just keep in mind a stinker might also be included.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Shields, James • 5-12 (2-6 H)
It is really a shame to watch Shields end his career this way. The 36-year is on a team in the midst of rebuilding and at this point of his career, he no longer has the needed separation in speed between his pitches to make his once feared change-up effective. Add in he’s gone from 3-to-1 K/W ratio to 2-to-1 and it’s not hard to imagine he and White Sox will keep losing games.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of www.VegasProInsidersDaily.com.