Jeremy Hellickson and the best (and worst) MLB pitchers to bet on in April

Apr 1, 2019 |

Major League Baseball trades places with March Madness as the sports flavor of the month in April. As we usher in America's favorite pastime, let's open the season with one of our favorite handicapping angles – good month pitchers.

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 April. On the flip side, we've also listed pitchers that struggle in April 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 April over the last three years. 

Note: * designates a categorical repeat appearance by this pitcher, maintaining status quo from last season’s April list (none this season). In addition also designated are the best and/or worst site results – home (H) or away (A) – within each pitcher’s April results. 

I'll be back next month with May's Good Month Pitchers. Until then, it’s time to play ball!

GOOD MONTH PITCHERS 

Hellickson, Jeremy • Washington Nationals • 9-4 / 5-2 A

In the offseason, Hellickson signed a deal to continue to pitch with Washington and is regarded as their fifth starter to begin the season. That means with off days he will probably miss a few early starts and that might be too bad for both him and the Nationals given his history of getting off to fast starts. Lacking overpowering stuff, Hellickson relies on command and getting ahead of hitters and last year threw 67 percent of first-pitch strikes to opposing hitters, to place the odds in his favor.

Lester, Jon • Chicago Cubs • 10-5 / 6-2 H

No longer having a mid-90's heater, Lester still knows how to pitch. The Cubs left-hander is now more reliant on his variety of curves and change-ups to keep hitters off balance and will still bust the fastball up and in with two strikes to further keep hitters guessing. Granted, Lester has pitched for a team that has won a lot of games in recent years, but his 50-19 record with a 3.33 ERA is still impressive the last three seasons as he reaches his mid-30's.

Morton, Charlie • Tampa Bay Rays • 10-5 / 8-2 H

Morton was given a second chance to revive his career in Houston and did he ever! Known as No.4 starter who was perpetually injured or ineffective in Pittsburgh, the Astros showed they know how to make pitchers better and healthier. Morton was 29-10 the last two years, with an ERA just over 3.30 and career-lows in WHIP of 1.19 and 1.16. At 35 and with World Series ring in hand, the right-hander took the money and moved to pitcher-starved Tampa Bay. There is little reason he won't be effective having the third-best fastball in the bigs last year at 96.6 MPH. 

 

Porcello, Rick • Boston Red Sox • 11-4 / 7-2 H

Porcello won the Cy Young in 2016 and followed that up by trying to prove he was a different pitcher, getting away from what he does best. He finished 11-17 with a WHIP of 1.40, his highest in four years. With Chris Sale and a healthy David Price, Porcello returned to a middle of the rotation pitcher, of which he is ideally suited. Last offseason, Porcello was convinced to throw his slider more as hitters were sitting on his fastball and sinker and that gave him another pitch to return to being effective.

Wacha, Michael • St. Louis Cardinals • 9-4 / 7-1 H

After a breakout 2015 season in which Wacha was 17-7, he lost his way a bit. Last season, the Redbirds righty was having a super season after 15 starts with an 8-2 record, with an ERA of 3.20 and WHIP of 1.23, when disaster struck with an oblique strain, which ended his year. At 27 and having gone through an assortment of ailments the last three years, Wacha is probably no longer ace material but an excellent No. 2 or No. 3 starter in St. Louis with electric stuff that he just needs to stay within himself to be outstanding.

Cueto, Johnny • San Francisco Giants • 11-3 / 6-1 H

The San Francisco right-hander is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Martinez, Carlos • St. Louis Cardinals • 11-3 / 7-1 H

Coming off an injury-plagued 2018, Martinez was shut down to start spring training with shoulder weakness. The two-time All-Star and former St. Louis ace received a platelet-rich plasma injection which reportedly helped, but there is still no timetable for his return.

BAD MONTH PITCHERS

Wood, Alex • Cincinnati Reds • 4-9 / 2-7 A

Wood starts his new career in Cincinnati on the injured list with a back issue that flared up halfway thru spring training. The latest news on a return is later this month if not early May. In spite of having talent, he never made the Braves or Dodgers feel comfortable, other than when he was 16-3 in 2017, and even then, he was a not factor in the postseason that year. Playing for a far worse team in Cincinnati, expect him to struggle in the Reds bandbox compared to pitching in L.A.

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