For horse racing fans, May is all about the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. For baseball purists, May is simply the second month of the season as we head toward summer. For die-hard baseball fans that enjoy handicapping America’s pastime, it also signals the arrival of our annual May Good Month/Bad Month pitchers report.
Listed below are hurlers that have enjoyed a two-to-one or better success ratio in team-starts over the course of the last three seasons during the month of May. On the flip side, we've also listed pitchers that struggle in May, winning 33 percent or less of their team-start efforts. To qualify pitchers must have made a minimum of 10 starts, with at least one start each May over the last three years. And for your convenience alongside each record we break down each pitcher’s greatest success or greatest failure rate either home (H) or away (A) within his good or bad month.
Note: * designates a categorical repeat appearance by this pitcher, maintaining status quo from last season’s May list.
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (15-3, 8-1 A)
Bumgarner is one the premier pitchers in baseball, though not the best bike rider which is why he starts this month on the DL. The left-hander is winless thus far after four starts, but that is a function of San Francisco not scoring as much as anything. MadBum is presumed to return to winning ways when he comes back.
Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants (12-4, 6-0 H)
Ceuto is the perfect No. 2 starter on almost any team and his array of starts and stops in his delivery keeps hitters off-balance. To date his numbers are off much like his team, but he's been top notch on May.
Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks (10-5, 4-2 A)
After a down year in 2016, Greinke is returning to his form of old. While he might not throw as hard as a few years ago, he has an outstanding collection of pitches to keep batter's guessing. The righty is the leader of an improving Arizona staff.
Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (10-5, 6-2 H)
Once thought of as a potential ace, Hughes has turned out to be a serviceable starting pitcher. Though he's enjoyed good success this month, he has an ERA around 4.5 for his career and team's have a batting average of about .270 against him.
* Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (12-4, 7-1 A)
The King has right shoulder inflammation and will not likely return until the middle of May. Though only 31, the velocity continues to drop and Hernandez is finding his way to the DL more often after a decade of heavy usage.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (11-5, 6-2 H)
Kershaw is still the best pitcher in baseball and has been for some time. His numbers are that of another era, as opposing teams are batting .205 lifetime against him. Already a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals (8-3, 6-1 H)
Lynn is back from elbow surgery and has been better than new with every one of current stats well below career norms. What we have witnessed is more tilt on the breaking pitches and he's really spotting his fastball expertly.
David Price, Boston Red Sox (11-5, 5-1 H)
Price's rehab has been coming along and at the end of April was supposed to start throwing to batters. If all goes well, should return sometime this month. Great talent who has lost a little on the fastball, however, secondary pitches are still excellent.
Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels (8-4, 4-2 H)
Has not thrown since suffering biceps strain and has not been cleared to throw. Richards is elite talent who keeps finding ways to get hurt. The Angels could really use their ace.
* Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (10-3, 4-1 A)
Sale is at the top of his game and embraced the role of being Boston's best pitcher. The big left-hander decided to sacrifice a little velocity (still throws in the mid 90's) in order to pitch deeper into games and to say that is working is an understatement. Like Kershaw, is a must watch hurler.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Andrew Cashner, Texas Rangers (3-9, 1-4 H)
Overrated starting pitcher for years who fits the old Yogi Berra line "He pitches good enough to lose." Cashner's ERA remains under 4 for his career, but makes that one or two mistakes that costs his team's games. Currently has more walks than strikeouts.
Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers (4-11, 2-6 A)
Sanchez is 33 and his stuff has gotten bad enough where Detroit can no longer keep him in the rotation. He is now doing long relief or middle of the game relief and Sanchez has hardly been a relief with an ERA over 9.
Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins (3-8, 1-4 H)
Santana has been fantastic to start the year for Minnesota, with an ERA under one and teams batting an unfathomable .116 against him. Will this continue, no, because no matter how Santana starts, fast or slow, he almost always is around career numbers. Nonetheless, he has been overwhelming.