Much like our waistlines after a tasty Labor Day barbeque, MLB rosters have expanded to accommodate September, the final month of the season. And as College Football and the NFL crash onto the scene, MLB pitchers take the final spotlight in hopes of leading their teams on to the playoff trail. The question is which ones can we count on and which ones figure to be candidates for offseason Weight Watchers meetings?
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 September. On the flip side, we’ve also listed pitchers that struggle in September 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 September over the last three years.
Note: * designates a categorical repeat appearance by this pitcher, maintaining status quo from last season’s September’s list. Enjoy the games.
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Hendricks, Kyle - Chicago Cubs • 10-3 (5-1 A)
The Cubs right-hander has been steadily dropping his ERA and if Chicago is indeed going to win the NL Central, they will need Hendricks to be a big factor.
*Jimenez, Ubaldo - Baltimore Orioles • 10-2 (7-1 H)
It seems like a miracle Jimenez can ever win. His oversized ERA only tells you how little starting pitching Baltimore has in their farm system. Maybe the Orioles will score a lot of runs at home like they have in the past for him.
*Kershaw, Clayton - Los Angeles Dodgers • 13-2 (8-1 A)
Kershaw is back off the DL and you know the Dodgers are hopeful he stays healthy until early November. He was 15-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his previous fifteen team starts before being sidelined the third week in July.
Liriano, Francisco - Houston Astros • 10-4 (4-1 H)
Liriano has been relegated to one inning relief duty for Houston and would only start if truly needed.
*Price, David - Boston Red Sox • 14-2 (8-0 H)
Price has been working at the end of August on throwing from distances of 105 to 120 feet. After that Price starts mixing in breaking balls on a flat surface from 60 feet and six inches before he can graduate to the mound. The timetable is still this month for his return.
Strasburg, Stephen - Washington Nationals • 7-3 (3-0 A)
Strasburg has looked good since returning from injury last month. Much like Kershaw, if Washington is going to win in September and October, he has to be electric.
Verlander, Justin - Detroit Tigers • 11-5 (6-2 H)
For a second straight season Verlander, after a mediocre first half, become a force in the second portion of the season. Expect this competitive right-hander to give his all even on a rotten Detroit club.
*Zimmermann, Jordan - Detroit Tigers • 8-4 (4-1 A)
Don't expect Zimmermann to duplicate his numbers of the past this month. With an ERA over 6, allowing 1.24 hits per inning and already close to 30 homers surrendered, not sure where he becomes a force again.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Archer, Chris - Tampa Bay Rays • 5-10 (3-6 H)
All the talent is there, it's just that Archer has never put it all together. Granted, he's been on average at best clubs, yet given his ability and numbers, at 27, he should be overcoming mental lapses.
Hammel, Jason - Kansas City Royals • 4-9 (1-5 A)
Pretty much a five-inning starter who falls off the cliff in hurry when the sixth rolls around, even if he is going well. It has been years since Hammel pitched well in the second half of a season.
*Leake, Mike - Seattle Mariners • 4-12 (1-8 A)
On June 30th, Leake had an ERA of 2.97. Now he's starts September at 4.25. His problem, not missing bats, giving up an unfathomable 1.6 base hits an inning. Look for more of the same in September.
Nelson, Jimmy - Milwaukee Brewers • 3-9 (1-4 A)
Over his career, Nelson has shown a tendency to wear down in the second half. The way he's trending since the All-Star break, it looks like deja vu all over again.
*Sale, Chris - Boston Red Sox • 3-11 (1-7 A)
This season Sale has been outstanding against every team but Cleveland. Now on a strong club and having to pitch meaning contests late in the year, let's see if he does a better job. Note: Sale's White Sox teams had a 7-18 record in his September starts.