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Baseball's Go-Against Pitchers

   by Jim Feist - 06/18/2009

Sports bettors can look at baseball starters in several different ways. One would be good starting pitchers who might be worth a look to support, in the right situation with the right price. Another method is to look at overrated pitchers to go against. Some pitchers have past reputations of being very effective. This is especially true in the first third of the season when many bettors are still looking at last year's stats.
However, this is a new season. Sometimes pitchers don't throw the same as last year, either because they are hurting, have changed teams, are in new ball parks, age is catching up to them, or the World Baseball Classic messed them up. Here's a look at some starters who haven't pitched well, even if their records may suggest otherwise.

Chien-Ming Wang: Ouch, has this been ugly. A former 19-game winner who is still in his prime, but pitching horribly on a high profile team. Wang injured his ankle and missed the second half of last season. His velocity appears fine, but his command has been lacking. The worst thing is that his confidence appears to be taking a beating. With shaky confidence, no pitcher can succeed on the mound with so many people watching every 5 days.

John Maine: The other high profile team in New York has a struggling former ace of its own. Maine has had control trouble, walking 34 in 61 innings, which is uncharacteristic. He has weakness in the back of his shoulder and has skipped two starts, returning this week. His last start before taking some time off was awful, getting bombed by the Washington Nationals, 7-1, as a favorite.

Carl Pavano: After a decent start to the season, Pavano struggled badly last week. With Fausto Carmona being sent to single-A, it has forced the Indians' starters to move up a notch behind Cliff Lee. Pavano struggled for the second consecutive start, giving up six runs on nine hits over five innings. After pitching so well for an extended stretch, consecutive stinkers have to be troubling for pitching-starved Indians.

Kyle Davies: Kansas City has been a little better than expected, but this rotation is top heavy, with limited help for ace Zach Greinke. Last week Davies earned his third win of the year, 7-4, against Cincinnati. However, he got through the fifth inning despite 100 pitches, while walking five batters in five innings. He is not a reliable starter and the team has already had a stretch at 0-6 with him taking the hill.

Jon Garland: Now we know why the 29-year old righty has been with three different teams the last three years. He has allowed over 200 hits in each of the last five years and is on pace to do so again with opponents hitting .293 off him. Garland gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings in a losing effort against Houston last week. He's taken the loss in each of his last five starts, and it doesn't help he gets little run support from the weak Arizona offense. Garland is not a strikeout pitcher, so opponents can put it in play. The D-Backs are 1-6 his last seven starts.

John Lannan: Washington is an excellent pitcher's park, plus being in the National League, a pitcher doesn't have to face the DH. Lannan has decent overall numbers for a bad team, but a closer look finds that he's good at home but weak on the road, where opponents hit over .300 off him. Bettors take note: the last three years Lannan has been close to a .500 pitcher before the All-Star break, but averages a 5-9 record after.

Shairon Martis: The 22-year old Martis turned a few heads early in the season by getting off to a 5-1 start with a bad Washington team. However, the kid was more lucky than good, with an ERA close to 5 and walking more batters than strikeouts. Even though his overall record remains respectable, the team just went 1-5 in six straight starts, getting mainly no decisions. His strikeout/walk ratio (0.85) is a major problem.

Micah Owings: Cincinnati is searching for starters, but this 26-year old isn't providing quality innings or wins. He walks too many batters and the team just went 1-5 in six straight starts. Oddly, he's piled up his best numbers on the road, with the exception of wins and losses, where he has suffered most of his defeats.

Ian Snell: Snell has been pitching better, but the Pirates just went through a 2-8 stretch with him as the starter. He played in the World Baseball Classic, which may be the reason for his struggles, along with several other big league starters. Snell is only 27-years old and has been a good strikeout pitcher in his career, but walks have always been a problem. He is being offered in trade talks and should bring plenty of interest from contending teams or ones willing to look at him as a longer-term project

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