June 30, 2008
By Stephen Nover
The late, great George Carlin had his seven words you could never say on television. In Carlin’s memory, I present the seven pitchers you can never bet on – or against.
These pitchers are just way too unpredictable. They are either great, or horrendous. Get involved in one of their games and chances are you’ll be repeating some of Carlin’s seven words.
Maybe Carlin could appreciate the humor and wickedness of Oliver Perez, Tim Wakefield, Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Davies, Brian Moehler, Seth McClung and Jorge De La Rosa. Thanks to these miscreants, my baseball bankroll is considerably shorter this season.
Oliver Perez (Mets) – The king of all or nothing. He’s capable of throwing a no-hitter. He’s just as capable of not retiring a batter.
Tim Wakefield (Red Sox) – This guy has been bedeviling me since he was with the Pirates. I paid $16 for him at my 1996 fantasy baseball auction and was rewarded with a 5.15 ERA in 211 2/3 innings. Not only did he destroy my team ERA, but he killed my WHIP by surrendering 328 combined hits and walks.
I haven’t touched Wakefield since. So guess what? The guy has gotten good. He’s still a 41-year-old knuckelballer, though, which means randomness. He gave up eight earned runs at Oakland on May 23. Following that he’s yielded only 10 earned runs in his last five starts.
Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) – I’ve never liked him. He may be the luckiest pitcher in the Majors given the great run support Philadelphia has given him. Naturally he loses for only the second time in his last 12 starts when I finally decide to play on him.
Kendrick has a 5.06 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Yet, the Phillies are 11-4 in his starts. The Phillies have averaged 6.7 runs in Kendrick’s last 23 starts going back to last year.
Kyle Davies (Royals) – Remind me to NEVER EVER bet a Davies’ game to go ‘under’ the total like I did this past Sunday, even if it’s against the Giants. There only were 21 runs scored. I considered Davies one of the worst pitchers and was surprised to see him resurface in the big leagues late last month.
But until that Giants game, where he gave up five runs on six hits and two walks while failing to reach the second inning, Davies had allowed just one earned run in each of his previous four starts. A lot of pitchers can get lucky once, but Davies did it four straight times.
Brian Moehler (Astros) – My God the stiff won again on Tuesday with another well-pitched effort. The guy came into this season with a 20-37 record during the past seven years, having pitched for four different clubs. Some of his ERA’s during this span were 7.90, 6.51 and 6.02.
This year Moehler has held foes to three earned runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts. Fading Moehler while playing the ‘over’ has been a disastrous approach. The ‘under’ is 7-1-1 during Moehler’s past nine appearances.
Seth McClung (Brewers) - Here’s another journeyman type that has risen from the discard pail to actually solidify a starting spot by pitching well. When the Brewers brought him up last month, Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said something like we’ll give him a shot and see what happens. It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
Not that McClung was worthy of inspiring much confidence. He had two of the worst years ever in 2005 and 2006 pitching for Tampa Bay. McClung pitched 109 1/3 innings in 2005. He gave up 106 hits, 62 walks and 20 homers. His ERA was 6.59.
McClung was just as consistently bad in 2006, pitching 103 innings and surrendering 120 hits, 14 homers and having a 59-to-68 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His ERA was 6.29.
This is a pitcher you want to fade, right? All McClung has done in his last three starts is yield five earned runs in 18 innings with a 13-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies) – De La Rosa finally started living up to my opinion of him as the worst starting pitcher in the Majors, by pitching poorly Tuesday in a loss to the Royals. Prior to that game, though, De La Rosa had given up three earned runs in his last two starts versus the Indians and White Sox, with an 18-to-two strikeout-to-walk ratio.