June Pitchers Report
June 3, 2013
By Marc Lawrence
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If it’s June, school is out. And so, too – at some point - will be the NBA. It’s also the time of the season when MLB pitchers look to ace exams in hopes of keeping their teams in the pennant chase. To get a better feel on what to expect, let’s examine their results from exams in the past.
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 June. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in June 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 June over the last three years.
I’ll be back next month with July’s Good Month Pitchers. Until then, hey batter, batter…
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Blanton, Joe - 7-3
This might take a leap of faith to back the Angels right-hander who is on pace to have the worst year of career. If he’s going to help his team the rest of the season, giving up over 1.5 hits per innings pitched has to change immediately. Maybe turning the calendar will help.
Buchholz, Clay - 11-1
Buchholz begins this month after missing a start with irritation in his collarbone/AC joint. Otherwise, the Red Sox righty has done little wrong in 2013, as opposing batters are below the Mendoza Line (.200 batting average) against his tosses this year. The biggest difference is his ability to be focused for each start, which was not the case previously.
Cueto, Johnny - 10-4
Having returned from the DL on May 20, Cueto is expected to continue what was the start of a quality campaign. Being backed with a ballclub which can score runs helps, but the Dominican native hides the ball expertly with a lively two and four-seam fastballs and a quick biting slider. Confident hurler.
Dempster, Ryan - 11-3
The 36-year old right-hander has struggled most of the season finding his pitch location, explaining his mediocre record. The fastball has lacked the tailing action of the past and left-handed batters are squaring up his tosses more often. It’s time for Dempster to start contributing for Boston.
Dickey, R. A. - 12-4
The dancing knuckleball has not been there for the NL Cy Young winner. Consistently, Dickey has not had the same dropping action from his knuckler as last year, which is why he’s been so prone the long ball. The conundrum is exasperated by the fact this has not happened even when he changed speeds. It is time for Dickey to start earning his wages.
Hammel, Jason - 11-5
In spite of a solid record this year, Hammel still has an ERA over 5. Where he’s been generally improved is more quality starts, but when Orioles starter has an “off day”, he is hammered. If the 6’6” right-hander can maintain the same win percentage in June as in the past, manager Buck Showalter will take it.
Hanson, Tommy - 12-2
Has been on the restricted list and on May 25 threw a five-inning, 75-pitch simulated game in Arizona and appears to be on the verge of rejoining the Angels' staff. With the Angels recent play; they would really like to have one of their main starters back to strengthen the rotation and the bullpen. Having Hanson put together another hot June would be a big plus.
Jimenez, Ubaldo - 11-5
No longer the mid-to-upper 90’s pitcher from his Colorado days, Jimenez is a back of the rotation starter for Cleveland, capable of two or three solid outings in a row and then struggle with his complicated delivery and be tagged. Always the key for this 29-year old is not walking batters, since that is when things unravel.
Latos, Mat - 12-4
Since arriving in Cincinnati, Latos has grown up and pitched with greater maturity. He is less bothered with mistakes and moves on to the next pitch instead of dwelling what on happened two batters ago. Could reach the next level as a pitcher if he develops a better plan for going through the lineup the third and fourth time.
Niese, Jon - 13-4
Not having a very good season on a below average club, Niese has started to focus on himself. The lefty has developed bad mechanics, leaning to the side and forward in his delivery instead of being straight up. The Mets year is probably lost, but Niese can turn it around by doing what he does best with his drop-and-drive motion.
Price, David - 12-5
Price has been on the DL since May 15 with a left triceps strain in the midst of his worst professional season. Maybe the rest will help and the velocity will return for the current AL Cy Young winner. Hard to imagine Tampa Bay makes the playoffs without Price finishing the year strong when he returns.
Sabathia, CC - 14-2
For really the first time, the Yankees big man is starting to show some mileage. Sabathia’s batting average allowed is on a pace for a career-worst and he is well ahead of surrendering the most home runs of his storied career (11 to this point; 22 HR is previous high). The fastball has lost a couple of miles per hour and his slurvy breaking pitches have not yet had the usual bite. Nonetheless, he’s still CC and chances are he will figure out how to win more games.
Verlander, Justin - 14-3
After a couple of domineering years, Detroit’s ace has been ordinary by his standards in 2013. Verlander is permitting a hit an inning, something he has not done since his breakout year in 2006. His past suggests he could return to his usual productive ways at any moment and this is typically a sendoff point for him.
Weaver, Jered - 8-4
The tall, lanky Halos hurler is back from a broken left elbow and is expected to do what he throughout his career, win nearly two out three decisions (102-53 record). This premier starter works all four corners of the strike zone like a surgeon.
Wilson, C. J. - 14-1
Interesting to note there are four Anaheim starters on this list, thus if history is a predictor of the future, the Halos could have a monster June. A little hesitant at first being an ace when Weaver was injured, the left-hander looked more comfortable as time wore on and at least looked the part. Has owned this month.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS
Cook, Aaron - 3-9
Colorado’s all-time win leader is back with the Rockies and pitching at the Triple A level.
Guthrie, Jeremy - 3-10
After setting a Kansas City franchise-record with 17 consecutive starts without a loss, Guthrie was roughed up the latter part of May and seen his ERA begin to return to career norms. Unless the Royals offense displays the ability to score like they did in sharp 17-10 start to the season, it is going to be difficult to back Guthrie.
Hamels, Cole - 5-12
The Phillies left-hander has already lost more games (8) than all of last season (6). After a rocky start, Hamels ERA has been in the mid-four’s since late April and though run support has been an issue from time to time, his yo-yo performances have made a bad situation worse. Hamels unusually high ERA at home (5.35) is what has really hurt him and finishing above .500 could be quite a task.
Masterson, Justin - 5-10
Playing on his best team since joining Cleveland, Masterson is trending positively. The Jamaican-born sidearm pitcher is at career-lows in batting average allowed and WHIP and if he can surpass the problems he’s endured in past June’s, he is setting himself up for a fine campaign.
Matusz, Brian - 4-13
Has only been used in relief by Baltimore this season and appears to have found a niche as a non-starter.
Nolasco, Ricky - 5-12
The Corona, CA native is statistically having his best year since 2007, when he was 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA. Unfortunately, Nolasco cannot be expected to come close to matching the same win total, playing for an abysmal Marlins outfit. Carlos (Ricky) has to be considered prime acquisition material for a contender before the season heads too much further down the road.
Sanchez, Anibal - 5-10
Unlike Nolasco, Sanchez has been saved from Miami, pitching for Detroit. More comfortable in his first full season in MoTown, Sanchez’s 5-4 record does not indicate how well he thrown for the Tigers. His previous negative numbers figure to be in the past with a championship contender.
Sanchez, Jonathon - 3-7
After starting the season with Pittsburgh, Sanchez was designated for assignment on April 30 and was picked up by the Dodgers on May 15 and is throwing for their Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque.
Zambrano, Carlos - 5-11
Signed a minor league contract with Philadelphia on May 15.