By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
With the MLB trade deadline at hand and the NFL pre-season whetting our pigskin appetite, 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 for betting baseaball, and which ones figure to turn our stomach? Take a look below.
Listed below are hurlers that have enjoyed a two-to-one or better success ratio in team starts the last three seasons during the month of August. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in August team starts, winning 33% percent or less of their efforts. To qualify pitchers must have made a minimum of 10 starts, with at least one start each August over the last three years. I’ll be back next month with September’s Good Month Pitchers. Until then, enjoy…
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Chen, Bruce • 13-5
Since being placed back in the starting rotation, Chen has been a valuable commodity for Kansas City and continued to throw extremely well in producing a 2.09 ERA. If the Royals are really going to make a run at the wild card, Chen will have to match his previous August numbers.
Cueto, Johnny • 10-5
Has been on the DL since June 30 with a right shoulder strain and there is no specific timetable for his return.
Gallardo, Yovanni • 12-4
Though just 27 years old, the radar gun does not lie and the Milwaukee right-hander has lost three to four MPH off his fastball accounting for career-worst ERA (4.91). It does not help playing for one of the worst teams in baseball, but this is his own doing, with opposing right hand hitters ripping a robust .286 against his tosses. Can he turn it around this month like in the past?
Halladay, Roy• 12-5
On July 21, Halladay threw off a mound for the first time since having corrective surgery on his throwing shoulder. Reports have his range of motion much improved, but at this juncture his return this month is questionable.
Hernandez, Felix • 12-5
It is just remarkable. Year after year, King Felix keeps putting up phenomenal numbers, despite pitching for a mediocre Seattle club. This season has been no different and Hernandez has not lost a game since May 25 and history tells us he will not drop many this month either.
Kennedy, Ian • 13-5
After winning 36 games the last two years, it has not been a good year for the Arizona right-hander with only three victories. This season he’s giving up over a hit an inning and he’s on pace to surrender a career-high in walks if he generates enough innings. The Diamondbacks need Kennedy to be a factor in the pennant race the last two months. (Update – traded to San Diego on July 31 to upgrade their depleted staff)
Oswalt, Roy • 9-3
Suffered an injury on July 22 and has been doing rehab work since. He could come back this month, but at 0-4 with 7.64 ERA with the Rockies, no reason to rush Oswalt back, who is a shell of his Astros days.
Sabathia, CC • 11-5
Sabathia turned 33 years old last month and has lost three to four MPH on his fastball. At 95+ you can miss spots and still get out big league hitters. However, with decreased movement and throwing in the low 90’s, CC’s ERA could be headed for the worst of his stellar career. Still thought of as a big-game pitcher, Sabathia has to rebound or the Yankees have no shot at the playoffs.
Santana, Ervin • 13-4
Though his record does not show it, the change of scenery helped Santana and the 30-year old Kansas City pitcher has been hovering around three all year with his ERA. Santana continues to pound the strike zone and he’s conceded only 31 walks in 21 starts. The Royals were playing good baseball at the end of July and if the Dominican dandy stays true to form, K.C. might be playing meaningful games all month long.
Scherzer, Max • 11-5
There have been Scherzer critics, pointing to his gaudy record of 15-1 being a byproduct of run support and very favorable pitching matchups. While there might be a speck of truth in this argument, ask opposing hitters what they think, batting .197 against him and he’s second in punch-outs in the American League.
Shields, James • 13-4
The Royals righty is beginning to command his pitches better of late and working later into games as was his custom with Tampa Bay. If Shields can continue to throw well and match his road ERA (2.50), he and Santana form a nice 1-2 punch at the top of the Kansas City rotation.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Burnett, A. J. • 4-11
At this time, Burnett only has 25 percent of the total wins he had in 2012, yet his ERA is a half a run lower, suggesting the lack of run support. If Burnett can keep throwing strikes with his cut fastball and sweeping curveball, the runs should come. Missing a few starts in June should help be fresher in the later stages of the season.
Cecil, Brett • 4-8
Has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 2013.
Corriea, Kevin • 4-9
The Minnesota right-hander has done his part to be a part of the worst starting pitching staff in baseball and has a 5.27 ERA in his last 10 outings. A combined 80 hits and walks over 54.2 innings will lead to a bloated ERA. No reason to believe Corriea will improve his stock with the Twins.
Hanson, Tommy • 3-7
His record might say 4-2, but Hanson has been another bust for Los Angeles. To this point he’s only made 11 starts after being counted on as the fourth or fifth man in the Angels rotation, with an ERA over five. Hanson’s 11-4 rookie campaign of 2009 seems a long time ago.
Hernandez, Roberto • 4-10 (formerly Fausto Carmona)
Even the normally positive skipper of Tampa Bay Joe Maddon is finding it challenging to say upbeat phrases about this pitcher. The Rays have a plethora of outstanding starting pitchers and more are on the way. Simply speaking, by whatever name, Hernandez and his 4.71 ERA is not getting it done.
Lincecum, Tim • 5-11
Though Lincecum has generally thrown better this year compared to last, chances are this will be the third straight year he will finish with a record below .500. San Francisco will have to make a decision about the undersized state of Washington native, who likely will never again reach 220 or more strikeouts, which he did from 2008 to 2011. Strictly a 50-50 proposition these days.
Maholm, Paul • 5-10
After a quick start with the Braves, Maholm has settled into career pattern of being ordinary ball chucker. His only saving grace is being on Atlanta who can hit home runs in bunches. Right-handed batters are hitting .301 against his deliveries in 2013.
Ohlendorf, Paul • 2-9
Starting the season at Triple-A Syracuse, Ohlendorf was advanced to the Washington roster in June and has pitched mostly in relief except for a couple a good spot starts for the Nationals. The more he starts, the more the righty will be exposed.
Saunders, Joe • 5-11
At this juncture of his career, Saunders is a back of the rotation hurler who can eat up innings. This year his splits are incredible and probably should be used accordingly. The lefty has a 3.62 Safeco Field ERA, compared to 5.53 in away games. And the time of day Saunders pitches have day and night results, literally. His ERA is 3.80 after dark and an unsettling 6.58 during the day.
Doug Upstone of Sports-Watch.com contributed to this article.