April Pitchers Report
April 7, 2014
By Marc Lawrence
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Major League Baseball trades places with March Madness as the sports flavor of the month in April. And as we usher in America's favorite pastime, let's open the season with one of our favorite handicapping angles – good month/bad pitchers.
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 April. On the flip side, we've also listed pitchers that struggle in April 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 April over the last three years. Note: * designates a categorical repeat appearance by this pitcher, maintaining status quo from last season’s April list.
I'll be back next month with May's Good Month Pitchers. Until then, let’s play ball!
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Colon, Bartolo (9-3)
Now with New York Mets, Colon won 18 games last season and posted a career-low ERA of 2.65. The amazing part is the rotund right-hander is doing this at age 40 and throwing fastballs 85 percent of the time. Word is Oakland catchers just kept calling fastballs and Colon decided on his own what kind of movement he wanted. Crazy!
*Correia, Kevin (10-5)
The soft-tossing Twins starter does not walk or strikeout many batters, gives up more hits than innings pitched and is a junkballer deluxe. Yet for some reason, he usually pitches pretty well in April before setting into normal patterns.
Hammel, Jason (13-3)
Signed as free agent by the Chicago Cubs in February, he is expected to begin in the bullpen as a long reliever and start only out of necessity.
Kershaw, Clayton (11-5)
The best pitcher in baseball has the full package, able to command the fastball to certain locations, a cliff-diving curveball and if he regains the feel for the changeup, well, Kershaw becomes even better. Not good news for MLB hitters.
*Lohse, Kyle (11-4)
Like most pitchers that leave St. Louis as free agents, Lohse regressed putting on a Milwaukee uniform. At 35, he’s unlikely to pull a Colon, but if he continues to throw pitches just outside the strike zone that are tantalizing to batters, he should produce a winning first month of the season.
Nova, Ivan (8-4)
The Yankees are hoping for big things from Nova, after he a recorded a 2.70 ERA in his last 16 starts in 2013. His more mature attitude and sinker has elevated his game.
*Sabathia, CC (11-5)
A slimmed down Sabathia hopes to return to prior form as the ace of the Bronx Bombers. The fastball lacks the same velocity, which is why he’s worked on slowing down his changeup even further to have a greater separation to the batter’s eye. The still tall left-hander, of a solid spring camp, knows how to pitch and needs to spot his tosses effectively.
Scherzer, Max (11-5)
Scherzer became an elite pitcher last season, which is why Detroit is still a threat to win a World Series. While some will question his intelligence in turning down 140+ million to stay with the Tigers, his curveball was devastating last season and he dominated right-hand hitters to the tune of a .165 batting average.
*Shields, James (13-4)
The Royals ace just knows how to pitch, working up and down and changing speeds effortlessly. This season he is playing on an improved Kansas City squad which has confidence from last year, Shields should start fast again.
*Weaver, Jered (9-3)
If the Angels are to return to the postseason, Weaver has to be a 17-18 game winner. His fastball and punchouts continue to decrease and he spent the spring trying to air it out, while doing a better job with location. His curve just rolls off the table and if he regains the bite of his dipping change, he could have a return to prior form.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
*Buehrle, Mark (5-11)
Talk about your innings-eater! Buehrle has pitched 200 or more innings in 13 consecutive years… the only other pitcher to that since 1980 is Greg Maddux. The crafty lefty has started poorly the last three seasons it might continue north of the border again.
Floyd, Gavin (5-10)
Floyd attempts to return from reconstructive elbow surgery for Atlanta and is likely out of action this April, hoping to return to action in May.
Hughes, Philip (4-8)
Still only 26, the former Yankee gets a chance to start over in a less stressful environment in Minnesota, which could allow him just to pitch. One problem, the Twins stink.
*Jackson, Edwin (5-11)
Jackson was 8-18 with the Cubs last season and his 4.98 ERA was his highest since his final year in Tampa Bay in 2007. What are his prospects for improving at 30 years old on one of the worst teams in baseball? You decide.
Latos, Mat (4-9)
After having off-season elbow surgery, Latos had surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee on Valentine’s Day. Latos will begin the season on the disabled list, and he will remain in Arizona after the team leaves camp. The plan is for him to have at least five starts in spring before pitching in the regular season.
*Saunders, Joe (5-10)
With injuries and underachieving pitchers, Texas is forced to turn to Saunders, who is coming off a 11-16 season in Seattle, where his ERA was 5.26 and he surrendered 26 percent more hits than innings pitched (232 vs. 183). Given his past, the Rangers better score runs if they expect to win when Saunders starts. FYI: he compiled a sky-high 3.69 WHIP this spring.
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