Pitchers Report - May
April 30, 2012
By Marc Lawrence
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The running of the Kentucky Derby each year signals MLB enters its 2nd month of play. And with it a handful of surprise teams take center stage. The key to sustaining will be success, or lack of it, from the pitching staffs. With that thought in mind, let's zero in on pitchers that will look to keep their team in the race and those that may pull up before they hit the wire.
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 May. On the flip side, we've also listed pitchers that struggle in May 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 May over the last three years.
I'll be back next month with June's Good Month Pitchers. Until then, enjoy
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Cueto, Johnny - 12-4
Notes - The Cincinnati right-hander was very sharp in April, with right hand hitters batting a plaintive .127 against him. Cueto uses a low to mid-90's fastball and tilted slider that he expertly changes speeds with.
Gallardo, Yovanni - 12-5
Notes - Gallardo is the ace of the Milwaukee staff and challenges hitters with a 90-95 MPH fastball and has a late-breaking slider. His curveball spins tightly and has excellent downward movement and he'll mix in the occasional change to give hitters something different to look at. Gallardo has not been up to his usual standards just yet, having troubles with left-hand batters. Possibly in May, his rhythm will return.
Hamels, Cole - 13-3
Notes - Hamels is an underappreciated hurler who great command. The Phillies lefty mixes two and four-seam fastballs in the low 90's and thanks to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, has developed a nasty cutter he can work both sides of the plate with. When he throws his two-strike changeup, batters swear it seems to back up, like Hamels has it on a string.
Johnson, Josh - 10-5
Notes - After a rocky start, Johnson has begun to find a groove utilizing his hard slider and fastball combination. If the Marlins top pitcher can regain his command, he will start missing more bats (opponents hit .337 against him in April) and be the top thrower Miami needs to compete in the NL East.
Kershaw, Clayton - 12-6
Notes - One of the best lefty's in baseball has developed the skill to command his four-pitch repertoire. Still only 24 years old, Kershaw can throw strikes when he needs to spot any pitch where he wants. His continued growth has seen his ground ball-to-fly ball outs skyrocket this season.
Lester, Jon - 12-6
Notes - Normally, Lester is one of the finest early season pitchers in the American League, but his walks were up significantly for April (until his final start of the month vs. Chicago) and that number will have to come down in May to match previous win totals. Reports have his delivery a little sped up causing more pitches up and away.
Lowe, Derrick - 13-5
Notes - Lowe might not be as old as Jamie Moyer, but he seems to have been around as long. Lowe will be 39 years old on June 1 and no longer has the velocity with his sinker/slider combo package from his younger days and has more balls hit with pace even low in the zone. Strictly fifth starter material and at his age, will be more effective early in the season than late, when the innings take their toll.
Peavy, Jake - 11-5
Notes - Is Jake Peavy finally healthy? It sure seems that way as early returns have a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and opposing batters are hitting just .162 versus the White Sox right-hander. The fastball is not the same as younger days, but the snap on breaking pitches has made for lunging swings with little or no contact.
Porcello, Rick - 10-4
Notes - Though just 23, Porcello has not accelerated at the same pace as Kershaw, leaving Detroit fans yearning for more. For a guy 6'6 with a rangy body, his career 4.8 strikeouts per nine innings is unremarkable. The Tigers hurler needs to trust his mid-90's fastball more to become the pitcher he should be.
Price, David - 9-4
Notes - Have you noticed that four of May's top performers are left-handed? The last in alphabetical order is Tampa Bay's prized possession, David Price. The Nashville native has a nice loose delivery from the three-quarters arm slot and has lively late-moving fastball that occasionally touches 96-97 MPH.
Verlander, Justin - 13-5
Notes - Arguably the best pitcher in baseball who is at the peak of his skills, Verlander has old-school power pitchers durability and often will have greater velocity late in games with his electric fastball. The Detroit ace also is intelligent and keeps hitters off-balance by varying his pitch patterns.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Floyd, Gavin - 4-11
Notes - The White Sox right-hander is very close to a .500 record-wise for his big league career, despite always giving the appearance of having better stuff. Floyd, actually has three dependable pitches, but has a tendency to run hot or cold for a series of starts. May has traditionally been a "cold" month for him.
Hernandez, Felix - 5-13
Notes - King Felix deserves his fair share of the blame for his rumpled record this month; however, this is not all on him. Except for a couple of surprise seasons in 2009 and 2007, Seattle has not been a good team and their schedule over the past several years in May has featured many of the heavyweights in baseball, contributing to his second-rate record.
Masterson, Justin - 4-12
Notes - The Jamaican born right-hander has been on shabby Cleveland teams for the most part. Masterson is a rare side-armed starter and tosses a heavy sinker along with a low 90's fastball. Where he gets into trouble is when he cannot control the movement of his pitches, leading to walks and lineups that are lefty-laden. To start the month, lefties are hitting .281 against Masterson.
Weaver, Jered - 6-12
Notes - It is almost inconceivable the Angels top pitcher would ever have a bad month based on his history. Similar to Hernandez, the Halos of Anaheim and Weaver end up playing Boston and the Yankees frequently during this time period, along with division games, which has contributed to a faulty record.
Wells, Randy - 3-8
Notes - From the Ripley's Believe It or Not, the 6'6 Cubs pitcher is actually a converted catcher. Wells depends on placement because of his well-below average fastball and will use a change-up more than once to hitters in their time at bat. When Wells cannot spot his pitches, he's throwing room service pitches.