By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com
The call to the post in the month of May signals the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. For baseball purists, May is simply the 2nd full month of the season as we head toward the sweltering days of summer. And for die-hard baseball fans that enjoy handicapping America’s pastime, it also signals the arrival of our annual May Good Month/Bad Month pitchers report.
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 May. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in May, 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 May 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 May list.
*Cueto, Johnny • 11-5 (5-1 H)
Johnny Cueto has been pitching all season like its May after an incredible start. As this month begins he a 0.86 ERA and otherworldly WHIP of 0.69. Opponents are batting just .150 against him. Cueto’s deceptive deliveries and various arm angles are working magically thus far.
*Greinke, Zack • 11-4 (4-1 A)
In spite of how well Arizona has started the season, Greinke’s been more inconsistent than normal. More than anything, he’s left too many pitches in the zone, giving up too many base-knocks and home runs. Let’s see if the right-hander finds his usual rhythm this month.
*Kershaw, Clayton • 13-3 (8-1 H)
Though Kershaw has not walked many batters, he’s missed his spots which has hurt him. He’s set such a high standard it’s almost impossible to maintain and his velocity has dipped now in his 10th season. Still, he’s still Kershaw and once the slider and curveball are back hitting their marks, watch the W’s start piling up.
McCullers Jr., Lance • 9-4 (5-1 A)
Other than one start, McCullers Jr. has been in great form so far in 2018. His curveball is a work of art and among the best in the majors. His tendency to get hurt is what is holding him back from becoming next level hurler. If the hook and the fastball are on, he is one tough customer.
*Price, David • 10-3 (5-0 H)
Price’s days as a top-notch starter appear over, but he can still be a very good pitcher. His command of the fastball is what’s changed (along with lower velocity), which makes his breaking pitches and off-speed stuff more of a focus for hitters. Nevertheless, when Price is right (sorry about that), he’s more than capable of stringing a group of victories together.
Strasburg, Stephen 12-4 (6-2 A)
Like his team, Strasburg has been up and down in the early part of the season. What has really hurt him is fat tosses in the zone, with seven balls flying over the fence already, after conceding an average of 14 per year since 2015. Just like the Nationals, it’s just a matter of time before Strasburg is back in the groove.
*Sale, Chris • 13-4 (7-2 H A)
Unquestionably one of the premier pitchers in baseball who has gotten smarter in trying to work deeper into games and pitch to more contact. That does not mean the big lefty cannot dial it up and punch-out a hitter when needed. Sale’s just figured out how to be more valuable to his team.
*Cashner, Andrew • 5-10 (2-8 A)
In the world of baseball betting, this is one of our favorite hurlers. Time and again oddsmakers consider his stuff rather than how he actually pitches. For every two OK starts are three lousy ones, which helps to explain his team’s 51-76 record in his starts since 2013 and why Cashner is 43-68 lifetime.
Note: in a bit of an oddity, only one hurler makes our BAD MONTH list this May. Stay tuned for recent developments.
Contributions from Doug Upstone of VegasProInsidersDaily.com