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April Good - Bad Month Pitchers

April Good - Bad Month Pitchers

April Good - Bad Month Pitchers
By Marc Lawrence

Major League Baseball trades places with college hoops as the sports flavor of the month in April. And 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 (and their team start record) 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.

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

Good Month Pitchers

A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates

April record: 9-4

Burnett pitched last year like he did before playing for the Yankees, much more relaxed and confident. Not every player is wired to play under the intense New York microscope. Burnett had more command with his fastball in the Steel City and his circle-change was brutal on left-handed hitters.

Kevin Correia, Minnesota Twins

April record: 10-5

Correia is a control pitcher and has to keep his below 90 mph fastball and cutter down in the zone to be successful. He will have the early advantage of not being widely seen in the AL and could get off to a hot start.

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

April record: 12-4

March was not kind to Halladay, who suffered from a dead arm and a virus which cost him 10 pounds. But Halladay is a “gamer” and his repeatable delivery allows him to throw four different pitches for strikes. Expect the 35-year-old to answer the bell and help Philadelphia win early.

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

April record: 10-4

Hamels is now the ace of the Phillies staff and his low-90s fastball lives at the bottom of the strike zone. The lefty is so effective because his changeup baffles hitters even today and it is a true swing-and-a-miss pitch, which helps him pile up victories.

Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers

April record:  11-3

Lohse recently signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee. His last two years in St. Louis saw him become successful by getting ahead of hitters, avoiding walks and using an improved slider to fan more batters. The Brewers hope his previous April successes and last year’s results continue.

Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins

April record: 10-4

Nolasco is the new ace in Miami and thrives by working both sides of the plate with his fastball. The righty compliments his heater with a split-change and is a bulldog on the bump.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

April record: 10-5

Price is one of the elite left-handed pitchers in the game. His mid-90s fastball forces opposing teams to gear up for the heat and Price fools hitters frequently with a diving cutter or a power slider. If a hitter wants to sit on certain pitch, forget it, he’ll throw the change which moves away from right-handed hitters.

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees

April record: 10-5

Few pitchers in the big leagues are as reliable and consistent as Sabathia. His durability is virtually unmatched in today’s game and he still can reach the mid-90s with complete command, moving the ball in and out or up and down. His slurvy breaking ball will often be his out pitch. The Yankees will certainly need their ace early with all the injuries.

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

April Record: 14-2

We are about to find out just how good Shields actually is after he made the move from Tampa Bay to Kansas City. The righty expertly locates his low-90s fastball and his change is so effective because the release point on this pitch is the same as his fastball, making it very deceiving. Can Shields lift his new teammates to his previous levels or does he sink to theirs?

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels

April record: 12-3

While there are concerns about Weaver’s drop in velocity in 2012, he still won 20 games with his ability to add or subtract speed off the fastball. Batters are continually off-balance with his assortment of high-spinning sliders, slow curves and changeups. He always wants the ball in big games.

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants

April record: 8-4

Zito was clutch in the postseason and was a key contributor to San Francisco’s championship run last season. The aging lefty no longer throws very hard, but last season had better overall control, making his looping curveball and changeup more effective. Zito should still contribute this year as a fifth starter.

Bad Month Pichers

Mark Buehrle, Toronto Blue Jays

April record: 4-11

Part of a blockbuster trade with Miami, Buehrle returns to the American League looking to resurrect his career at 34 in Toronto. The lefty has thrown 200 or more innings in each season since 2001, but his command is becoming less stable with age.

Ryan Dempster, Boston Red Sox

April record: 4-10

After spending his entire career in the National League, Dempster went to the American League and did little to help Texas last season, casting doubts about his potential success in Boston. Last year the 35-year-old infrequently topped 90 mph, as opponents started to sit on the slider and drove it. Though Dempster has experience in playing in a small park, can he be more than a .500 pitcher for the Red Sox?

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs

April record: 5-10

Though he doesn’t turn 30 until September, this will be Edwin Jackson’s eighth different Major League team. His greatest attribute is durability, but he’s never found a home because of too many uneven starts over a season. Jackson did post a career strikeout rate in 2012, but playing for the Cubs will not improve his win percentage.

Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds

April record: 4-9

A notoriously slow starter, the Cincinnati right-hander’s career record in April is 2-8 with a 5.79 ERA. Once April was out of the way in 2012, Latos went 13-2 with a 3.09 ERA in his final 28 starts. Will he be able to clear the next hurdle in his career and pitch well early?

Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres

April record: 5-11

The Padres left-hander will put together a group of quality starts, giving hope he’s finally figured how to succeed only to inevitably fail again, frustrating himself and his team. What typically is Richard’s downfall is his inability to pitch inside to right handed batters, who swing too comfortably in the box.

Ervin Santana, Kansas City Royals

April record: 5-11

Santana is confident he can be the hurler he was before last season. To do so, he will be wearing a Kansas City uniform and no longer pitching in key contests like he did with Anaheim. After a disastrous first four months, Santana was pretty solid last August and most of September after fixing some mechanical issues. Which pitcher will the Royals see in 2013?

Joe Saunders, Seattle Mariners

April record: 4-10

The 31-year-old Virginia native is trying to keep up with Edwin Jackson, pitching for his fourth different team in four years with the move to Seattle. Saunders will start the year in the Mariners starting rotation and has good control, but his stuff would be best described as below average.

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Re: April Good - Bad Month Pitchers

Pitchers We'll Be Going Against in April
By: Micah Roberts

With spring training just about over, let's look ahead to the first couple weeks of the MLB regular season and find a few pitchers who didn’t have good camps statistically and might provide good betting opportunities going against them.

There are two ways to look at the spring stats. One is what many baseball writers preach: don't put too much into them because pitchers are focused on altering mechanics, trying new pitches and stretching their arms out after a long winter. The other contention — from a betting angle, and one we subscribe to — is that a pitcher's last few spring starts prelude how they may perform in the first couple of weeks of the regular season.

Working on mechanics and situational pitching is fine early on, but if someone continually gets rocked, there’s something there. No pitcher wants to get hit continually in any situation, and if they can’t do anything about it, that’s something to take note of and take to the bet window.

With betting baseball, it’s all about rhythm, streaks and trends. If a pitcher gets roughed up in spring often, it will likely continue in the first few weeks of the season. They may get out of the funk by May, but that’s when the bettor can adapt to their improvement in the same fashion that the oddsmakers will. Any angle or perceived edge a bettor can gain in the first few weeks of the season is huge because that is when the most adjustments to a pitcher rating is made.

Here’s a look at several pitchers that would have liked to have better spring numbers:

Scott Feldman, Cubs, 0-3, 11.25 ERA: He won 17 games for the Rangers in 2009, and the Cubs brought him in to help bolster one of the worst rotations in the NL, but after six spring starts, he looks to be adding to the team's issues, not improving them. Opponents have hit .396 against him, and he has surrendered 25 runs in 20 innings. He’s also served up seven home runs, tied for second most in the spring behind the Padres' Freddy Garcia. In order to take advantage of the Cubs' projected No. 3 starter at the bet window, you’ll have to lay big numbers, but it should be worth it for at least his first few starts.

Kris Medlen, Braves, 1-2, 7.23 ERA: He led Atlanta to the playoffs last year, as the Braves won his final 12 starts of the regular season, but he then lost the wild card game to the Cardinals. In six spring starts, he looks like he’s lost that lovin’ 2012 feeling by allowing opponents to hit .320 off him and score 19 runs in 23.2 innings. He only gave up 24 runs in 138 innings the entire season last year. He could be just trying some new things in spring with little regard for winning — getting his arm ready for the season but his numbers are good/bad enough to side with Cliff Lee against him on Thursday.

Dan Haren, Nationals, 0-4, 6.38 ERA: Sometimes it’s hard to put a name pitcher who we’ve seen be dominant over his career into the “bet-against” category, but Haren has given plenty of reason for that over the last season-and-a-half, and his 2013 spring isn’t helping him get off the list. Last season, he surrendered 18 home runs in 176 innings, the worst ratio of his career. This spring, he’s allowed seven homers, most in the Grapefruit League. Because he’s on one of the best teams in the NL and figures to be the No. 4 starter, there should be plenty of April opportunities of siding with his opponent at great prices.

Jarrod Parker, A’s, 0-2, 7.45 ERA: He won six of his final seven decisions last season and helped the A’s make the playoffs, but ended up taking two tough losses to the Tigers in the playoffs. Things should be looking up for Oakland's former No. 1 draft pick, who looks fully recovered from 2009 Tommy John surgery. But in five spring starts, he’s been roughed up a bit, allowing 18 runs in 19 innings of work. It’s not unusual to see a young team or pitcher take a step back the season following a magical year. Last year, the A’s were underrated in prices all season. This season, they might be overpriced. Parker stated that part of the reason for the high spring numbers was trying to throw early strikes, but at some point, shouldn’t the hitters miss some of those pitches? They’ve tagged him for a .309 average and five home runs.

Tim Lincecum, Giants, 0-2, 10.97 ERA:
After being a major contributor to the Giants' World Series title last season, there was plenty of optimism coming into 2013 that “The Freak” would be back flaring with all his nastiness. But that doesn’t look to be the case, as he’s having his worst spring ever. He’s started four games going only 10.2 innings, while giving up 13 earned runs and allowing opponents to hit .347. Sure, he can be given the benefit of the doubt because it’s spring, but if there was ever a pitcher that needed a good camp for his confidence, it's Lincecum. His pitcher rating is way down to begin with, so it won’t be like you're stealing prices going against him at the bet window, but no matter the price, a win is a win, and his opponents should have an edge in April.

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Re: April Good - Bad Month Pitchers

MLB's Hottest and Coldest Bets in Opening Week
By Jason Logan

Baseball is back, whether you’re ready or not. If you’ve been busy betting the NCAA tournament or capping the playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, let us lend a hand and get you up to speed

Here are three teams that tend to start the season hot and three others who drag their feet in the opening games of the schedule.

Record over the past 10 MLB seasons.

Hot starters

Toronto Blue Jays (35-23 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: vs. Cleveland, vs. Boston

The Blue Jays always come out with a head of steam but fizzle as the schedule goes on. Last season, Toronto went 6-4 in its first two series of the season. This year, a reloaded roster and stacked pitching staff has the Jays among the World Series faves but could there be a jelling process for this new-look club?

Los Angeles Dodgers (34-26 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: vs. San Francisco, vs. Pittsburgh

The Dodgers were on fire to start the 2012 season and jumped up the World Series futures board thanks to a 16-7 record in April, including a 6-1 mark in their first two series. Los Angeles reached deep into its pockets this offseason and loaded up on talent. Much like Toronto, L.A. could need some time to come together.

St. Louis Cardinals (32-24 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: at Arizona, at San Francisco

The Cardinals are known more for their late-season heroics than their April success. However, St. Louis got off to a strong start in 2012, winning five of its first seven and let everyone know it would be alright without Albert Pujols.

Cold starters

Philadelphia Phillies (21-32 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: at Atlanta, vs. Kansas City

Believe it or not, one of the best baseball teams over the past 10 seasons has also been one of its slowest starters. The Phillies split their first six games of the 2012 season and if Roy Halladay is suffering from a dead arm, things may go the same this spring.

Boston Red Sox (24-33 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: at New York, at Toronto

There were teams with worse records during opening week than the Red Sox, but who the hell is going to bet on the Astros? Boston was the most costly team in baseball last season, burning 36.85 units, and a 1-5 start to the schedule set the tone for a dismal year for BoSox backers.

Cleveland Indians (23-31 in Opening Week)

Opening Week opponents: at Toronto, at Tampa Bay

The Tribe aren’t surprising anyone falling under this category. Cleveland is not only among the slowest starters – going 1-4 in its first two series last year - but is the worst Opening Day bet in the bigs at 2-8 over the past 10 seasons. But there is a catch. The Indians added some interesting players to the mix this offseason and are the “sexy” season win totals over pick (77.5) among Las Vegas wiseguys.

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