Baseball's best and worst pitchers in June
If it’s June, school is out. And so too will be the NBA, sometime soon - we think.
It’s also the time of the season when MLB pitchers look to ace exams in hopes of keeping their teams in the pennant chase.
To get a better feel on what to expect, let’s examine their results from exams in the past.
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 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 MONTH PITCHERS:
Mark Buehrle • 11-5
Never a household name, Buehrle has long been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. In his first season in the National League, the veteran left-hander has his lowest ERA (3.26) and WHIP (1.12) since the 2005 season with the White Sox and will be one of the main cogs if Miami is to be a playoff team.
Tommy Hanson • 12-2
Typically, Hanson warms up like the Georgia weather in June. Like all the Atlanta pitchers in late May, Hanson has not been nearly as effective with his location, which is why his hits per innings pitched and walks are up. If the 25-year old is going to turn it around, it would seem to be this month. Amazingly, Hanson has an ERA well over six at Turner Field.
Cliff Lee • 13-4
Lee went on the DL with a strained left oblique in the latter stages of April and has shown signs of returning to prior form. His strikeouts-to walk ratios are running at 5 to 1, giving the impression if he isn’t quite at peak performance, he will be soon. With Roy Halladay gone for six to eight weeks, Lee will have to be the man along with Cole Hamels if Philadelphia is going to be a true contender in the NL East and just not a team in total decline.
Jon Lester • 10-5
The Boston lefty is on these pages month after month, but has not been the same this season. Normally, Lester averages 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but this year he’s down alarmingly to 6.0. Scouts have noticed a great dependency on the fastball, using fewer cutters and curves. In the ultra-competitive AL East, the Red Sox need a steady Lester if they are to be more than a .500 club.
David Price • 11-5
Tampa Bay’s ace is fulfilling the club’s desires, seldom having an off start and able to work through games when he doesn’t have his best stuff. Make certain to see if the price is right on Price at home, since he is sporting a Kate Upton-sized bikini ERA of 1.19 at Tropicana Field.
CC Sabathia • 12-4
It’s a short list of pitchers who have been as consistently good as the Yankees Sabathia, who is 84 games over .500 for his career. What makes CC (Carsten Charles in case you were wondering) so effective is his knowledge of pitching, able to work side to side and up and down to keep hitters off-balance. The big man continues to overwhelm left-handed hitters, who are batting just over the Mendoza Line against him.
Justin Verlander • 12-4
Baseball’s most overpowering pitcher does not have as many wins this season compared to last, but that’s only because of a weaker bullpen and fickle offense. Through the first two months of the season, Verlander is near or ahead of last year’s Cy Young and MVP numbers in ERA, batting average allowed and WHIP. He’s a possible no-hitter each time out, but not the sure bet of year ago with a weaker overall team performance.
Jered Weaver • 10-5
The one player who has been doing his job for Los Angeles is Weaver, who started the season with a 6-1 record, 2.61 ERA and had teams hitting just .195 against him. Weaver is on the DL until at least June 12 after injuring his back in his last outing against the Yankees. He will be sorely missed. (No pun intended)
BAD MONTH PITCHERS
Gio Gonzalez • 4-10
At the present rate, Gonzalez will soon be in the upper group of this article. After putting together a 31-21 record in his last two years in Oakland with an earned run average in the low three’s, the Hialeah, Florida born lefty has found a home in a Nationals uniform. Gonzalez is averaging well over a strikeout per inning with opposing batters hitting a feeble .156 against him. Though he’s only walked 25 batters in 61+ innings, as ESPN’s Orel Hershiser pointed out, Gonzalez is effectively wild, in three zones (high, medium and low) that hitters never feel comfortable at the plate.
Mark Guthrie • 5-10
Colorado’s minor league system has to be barren of pitching prospects having Guthrie and Jamie Moyer in the starting rotation. (The latter is a fluid situation) Why the Rockies signed Guthrie is a mystery since it was proven for years, hurlers that pitch to contact will be lit up at Coors Field. The park might also be getting to Guthrie’s nerves since he’s a career almost 2-to-1 K’s to walks pitcher and he is nearly even in this category in 2012, trying to be too fine.
Cole Hamels • 5-11
Based on this year’s results, Hamels might not be a good Play Against pitcher in June like in the past. In the final year of his contract on a team that might be descending, the Phillies port-sider has put it all together with his baffling array of pitches. Besides a plus fastball, Hamels off-speed stuff has been unhittable, giving reason why he has a 1.80 ERA in night games. Let’s see if he can overcome what has been his toughest month.
Chris Volstad • 4-13
The Chicago Cubs sent Volstad down after beginning 0-6 with a 7.42 ERA. Unless he finds himself, there is little reason for the Cubs to bring him back to the Windy City since he is winless in his past 19 starts.
Nick Blackburn • 5-11
The Minnesota right-hander went on the shelf May 17 after a left quad strain. It probably was a blessing since his ERA of 8.38 in eight starts had manager Ron Gardenhire reaching for the TUMS before games, not just during. Blackburn’s frighteningly low strikeouts to innings pitched numbers could be hidden when the Twins could hit, but now, not so much. His next rehab assignment is scheduled for June 3, where a further determination of his status will be forecast.