By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
Independence Day Fireworks and the MLB All-Star game always go hand-in-hand during the month of July. It also signals the start of the second-half of the MLB campaign. And as we’ve come to learn the key to each and every team’s fortunes lies with the pitching staff. Can these pitchers sew up critical wins or will they unravel like a hand-me-down suit? Stay tuned. What we do know is that certain pitchers love hurling this time of the season while others tend to get lit up like a roman candle.
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.
Cole, Gerrit • 9-3 (6-1 H)
As if Cole was not effective enough this month in his career, the right-hander is having a fantastic year with the World Series champs. Cole’s evolution began last season when he discovered a changeup that worked, to go along with two fastball’s, a curve and a slider. Expect him to continue to stay hot in July.
deGrom, Jacob • 10-4 (5-2 A)
In truth, the only thing that holds deGrom back from continuing to win in July is his teammates. The New York right-hander has a 1.69 ERA this season, but in 10 of last 12 starts, the Mets have scored three or fewer runs. Let’s see if deGrom can overcome this adversity.
*Duffy, Danny • 12-4 (7-1 H)
The Kansas City lefty is now on a bad baseball team and is showing the effects of it. Duffy has either been rather good or pathetically awful with little in between. He’s not helped himself with 46 walks in just over 94.2 innings and been taken yard 18 times. Keeping up prior numbers could be an issue for Duffy.
*Hamels, Cole • 11-4 (5-1 H)
At some point of this month, Hamels will likely be traded with the July 31st deadline coming. The lefty is no longer the same pitcher he was when with Philadelphia, at 34 years old now. His command is shakier and he’s prone to more home runs allowed, but if he’s traded to a contender, that might resharpen the focus and make his a consistent winner again.
*Lynn, Lance • 8-3 (6-1 H)
Never a hard thrower, Lynn has always found a way to work out of trouble. He walks more batters than he did before the injury, which is caused by nibbling more. But he knows how to avoid trouble and can be a reliable five/six inning hurler.
Quintana, Jose 11-5 (7-3 H)
Plain and simple, it’s time for Quintana to stand up. The Cubs lefty was an excellent pitcher on the other side of Chicago but has been indifferent in his time on the North Side. His inability to spot the fastball inside at the knees or chest high has curtailed his production. With a largely underachieving starting staff, the Cubs need the pitcher they traded for.
*Tanaka, Masahiro • 10-5 (8-1 H)
The new Yankees coaching staff has Tanaka on a shorter leash, but he keeps on winning. As the month starts he will be coming off the DL with a hamstring problem, but he’s 7-2 this season and 59-30 lifetime in the Pinstripes and everyone will expect that to continue when he starts dealing again.
Colon, Bartolo • 4-10 (1-5 A)
At 45 years old, just the fact that Colon is wearing a major league uniform is amazing. Nonetheless, his stops in recent years have been on pitching poor teams who don’t have anyone in the minors they trust to be even a .500 pitcher. Colon knows how to pitch and where to place the ball, but to expect many W’s is a pipedream. This month could lead to his undoing.
Matz, Stephen • 3-8 (1-4 H)
After being a solid pitcher in 2015-16, Matz was injured last season and has not found the previous groove. His walks are up and strikeouts are down this season, which is usually a tell of diminished results. Playing for a Mets club with a host of injuries is the new norm for the Blue and Orange. Matz has not won often in July and that probably continues this season.
Ray, Robbie • 4-10 (1-5 H)
After missing almost two months, the Diamondbacks talented and mystifying portsider retuned on June 27th. Nobody has ever questioned Ray’s ability and it looked like after having a career-year in 2017, he had grown into the focused pitcher everyone was hoping for. In spite of 51 strikeouts in only 33.2 innings, Ray has an ERA of 4.01 and a WHIP of 1.37. Simply put, it’s hard to trust this pitcher.
Shields, James • 5-11 (1-5 A)
If not for the White Sox willing to live with Shields’ mediocre repertoire at 36 and desire to have a veteran pitcher on a youngish squad, he would probably be out of baseball. Bet against Shields and Chi-Sox again this month.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of VegasProInsidersDaily.com