By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
Fireworks and the MLB All-Star game signal the month of July. It also signifies the start of the 2nd half of the MLB campaign. The key to each and every team’s fortune lies on the pitching staff. Can they sustain or will they fold like a cheap lawn chair from K-Mart? 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 the last three seasons during the month of July. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in July 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 July over the last three years. Note: * designates pitcher was on this list last year.
I’ll be back next month with August’s Good Month Pitchers. Until then, it’s time to take me out to the ballgame…
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
*Hudson, Tim • 12-5
When San Francisco signed Hudson, our guess is they were hoping for a serviceable No. 5 starter with veteran experience which could give them a better than 50-50 chance to win. It has turned much better for the Giants, winning 10 of Hudson’s 15 starts and he has held right-handed batters to just a .245 average. Especially watch for Hudson at home, where he’s only lost twice since last season.
Jackson, Edwin • 10-4
Have to admit, a stunner to see this much traveled ball-chucker having a good month any time. Wish I could say I had an answer for his July success for a guy who is 83-97 in the big leagues, but I don’t. In looking for a positive, Jackson pitches better at Wrigley Field than on the road (3.86 ERA vs. 6.70) and he’s won four of six decisions at the friendly confines this season.
*Kershaw, Clayton • 12-5
The best pitcher in baseball is coming off a fantastic June, in which he was 6-0 and surrendered four total runs in his starts and picked up a no-hitter. The early nit-picky talk about his curveball has quieted and he’s back to his old-dominate self. He has 107 strikeouts in 79.1 innings and a WHIP of 0.92. Opposing teams are hitting .209 against Kershaw and left-handed batters, why bother, with a .180 average.
*Porcello, Rick • 12-1
With a star-studded pitching staff, Porcello only ranks fourth in the rotation as far as ability, but this season he’s been then their moneyman in winning 11 of 15 outings. He’s also been one of the top bets among pitchers at +7.15 units. The big difference with the right-hander this season is his sinker has more dip and he’s making fewer bad pitches, leading to more wins and is on pace for a career-low WHIP of 1.19. If the Detroit offense continues hitting, keep backing Porcello in July.
Tillman, Chris • 7-3
The Orioles ace has picked up +5.6 units in spite of 4.00 ERA, with Baltimore 11-6. How has Tillman done this? While probably unaware of the betting odds, he knows when he matched against a very good starting pitcher from the opposing team and pitches better, which is why the O’s are 9-2 this season with Tillman as an underdog. He’s a fly-ball pitcher, who’s had some trouble on the road (5.53 ERA), if he can improve command, he should be a winner this month.
*Weaver, Jered • 13-5
Just love the analytics crowd who love to use a six-inch paintbrush to encompass a wide swath to their thought processes. “Weaver will continue in serious decline” was among the scathing preseason reviews of the angular right-hander. His fastball peaks out at 91 on good days and is more consistently 88-89 MPH and is does not compute to them he would concede 18 percent fewer hits to innings pitched with that kind of velocity. All Weaver does is win and dominate righty hitters (.163 BA).
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Bedard, Eric • 1-10
Bedard was not good enough to pitch a second season with Houston and is primarily in the majors only because Tampa Bay needed a warm body in the spring after their starting staff was decimated by injuries. The 35-year old has not been horrible this season, but he’s not a fit on a team that expects to be a playoff contender, which Tampa Bay is not this season. More bad news ahead.
*Norris, Bud • 4-10
For his entire career, Norris has been a solid pitcher at home and unbelievably bad on the road. He must have been thrown in a lot of away games in July to earn this record and will start the month on the DL with a right groan strain. When he returns, definite Play Against potential in away games.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of Vegas Pro Insiders Daily.