June's Good Month Bad Month Pitchers
By Marc Lawrence
The MLB calendar flips to June and we look at which pitchers perform well in the third month of the schedule and which ones run out of gas in June.
Listed below are hurlers that have enjoyed a 2-to-1 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.
GOOD JUNE PITCHERS
Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Angels • 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.
Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox • 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.
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds • 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.
Ryan Dempster, Boston Red Sox • 11-3
The 36-year-old right-hander has struggled to find 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.
R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays • 12-4
The dancing knuckleball has not been there for the 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 to 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.
Jason Hammel, Baltimore Orioles • 11-5
In spite of a solid record this year, Hammel still has an ERA over 5.00. Where he’s been generally improved is more quality starts, but when Orioles starter has an “off day”, he is hammered. If the 6-foot-6 right-hander can maintain the same win percentage in June as in the past, manager Buck Showalter will take it.
Tommy Hanson, Arizona Diamondbacks • 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.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians • 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.
Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds • 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 on what 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.
Jon Niese, New York Mets • 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.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays • 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.
C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees • 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 C.C. and chances are he will figure out how to win more games.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers • 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.
Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels • 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.
C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels • 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 JUNE PITCHERS
Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals • 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.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies • 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.
Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians • 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.
Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles • 4-13
Has only been used in relief by Baltimore this season and appears to have found a niche as a non-starter.
Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins • 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 can’t be expected to come close to matching the same win total, playing for an abysmal Marlins outfit. He has to be considered prime acquisition material for a contender before the season heads too much further down the road.
Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers • 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.
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1* Minnesota (7:35 ET): Though only 4th in their own division (Central), I actually have the Wild rated as the top team in the Western Conference right now. After concluding a three-game trek though Western Canada w/ a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Sunday, I believe the team has been severely mispriced as they get set to hit the other end of the country
Ironically, Toronto also just concluded a three-game trip through Western Canada. Like the Wild, they beat Edmonton, but lost to Vancouver and Calgary. Unlike the Wild, the Leafs' trip started in Edmonton and worked its way West. Though 10-9-5 overall, Toronto still finds itself in last place in the division as the Atlantic is shaping up to be quite challenging this year. While they've been far better at home than on the road, the Leafs still don't deserve to be the ML favorites in this matchup. They are just 5-11 SU playing w/ three days rest by the way. They are 28th in goals allowed plus were shutout in Calgary last week. The goaltending they'll face here is far stiffer.
What I like about Minnesota is the fact they are 2nd in the league in goals allowed and first in save percentage. Paced by Devan Dubnyk (league leader at .948), the Wild have outscored opponents so far by 15 goals. Dubnyk already has four shutouts and his GAA is 1.63. It's a massive edge for him over Toronto's Frederik Andersen. The Wild have won all five meetings with the Maple Leafs the last three seasons, including a 3-2 home win back in October. Great value here on the better team. 1* Minnesota