By Marc Lawrence * Playbook.com
Like our waistlines after a tasty Labor Day barbeque, MLB rosters have expanded to accommodate the final month of the season. And as College Football and the NFL barge onto the scene, MLB pitchers take the final spotlight in hopes of leading their teams on to the playoff trail. Which ones can we count on and which ones figure to belly up? Check it out.
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 September. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in September 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 September over the last three years. Enjoy…
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Milwaukee has established itself as no worse than the second best team in the National League in part because Greinke has turned into the pitcher they had seen at Kansas City. In his last 10 starts his ERA is 2.41 and his strikeout to walk ratio is better than 4-to-1.
Jurrjens, Jair * 10-3
The Atlanta right-hander looks to be healthy from his stint on the DL, being able to work both sides of the plate. Hitters in the right side batter’s box are batting just .226 versus Jurrjens.
Lester, Jon * 12-3
All this Boston southpaw does is win month after month once he gets into May. He’s lowered his ERA over a half a run in his last 10 starts and is on pace to have the lowest WHIP of his career.
Lilly, Ted * 11-5
Maybe the Dodgers lefty can finish strong, but Lilly is guaranteed his second straight losing campaign. It’s easy to trace his problems. He’s giving up nearly a hit an inning for the first time since 2006 and he on pace to allow a career high in home runs because of his lack of command.
Rodriguez, Wandy * 8-4
Always a .500 pitcher throughout his entire eight-year career, Rodriguez has usually had a strong close to the season. That could be a challenge pitching for this Astros club who will lose 100 or more games for the first time in franchise history.
Sabathia, CC * 14-2
The Yankees ace didn’t have his typical outstanding August, getting the fastball up and permitting more hits than normal. One extra day between starts might be the tonic the big man needs to finish lights the rest of the season.
Saunders, Joe * 10-5
If Arizona could win three of Saunders five projected starts this month, you would have to think they would be thrilled. For Saunders to be effective, he has to own the inside corner against right-handed batters below the waist and mix in the change low and away to all hitters.
Correia, Kevin * 8-3
Is on the DL with a strained left oblique and Pittsburgh would like to have him back in their quest to finish above .500 for the first time in 20 years. strained left oblique strained left oblique strained left oblique
Blanton, Joe * 10-5
Has nerve damage in right elbow and is not expected to pitch again this season.
Johnson, Josh * 7-3
The Marlins’ ace is believed to be shut down for the rest of the year with inflammation in his right shoulder, but the Marlins maintain that he could return.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Cain, Matt * 5-10
His numbers this season are similar to career stats, but throughout his time in Giants uniform has received poor run support. Another way to look at Cain is thru the eyes of Yogi Berra who might say this about Cain, “He pitches good enough to lose”.
Duke, Zach * 3-8
The left-hander is relegated to the Arizona bullpen where he belongs and that’s a maybe. How can a guy still pitch in the big leagues since 2005 with opposing teams batting .306 against him lifetime?
Garza, Matt * 5-10
Once believed to be a pitcher with top of the rotation stuff, his mental makeup has not allowed him to throw consistently start after start. Though his home runs totals are way down compared to prior seasons, Garza will have two strong starts and then be shelled.
Lincecum, Tim * 4-9
The diminutive San Francisco righty has at times seemed to wear down. Don’t look for that to happen this season as Lincecum has a 1.60 ERA in his past 10 starts and is conceding just one hit for every four outs in this stretch.
Maholm, Pat * 3-7
The Pittsburgh port-sider was placed on the DL for the first time in his career on Aug. 18 with left shoulder strain. His return is unknown at this time. left shoulder strain. His return is unknown at this time.
Doug Upstone of 3Daily Winners.com and Playbook.com contributed to this article.