Ice Cold MLB Starts Guaranteed Not to Last

Doug MeadCorrespondent IApril 24, 2013

Ice Cold MLB Starts Guaranteed Not to Last

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    As of Tuesday, the 2013 MLB season had already seen 17 postponements of games, many of them due to ice-cold conditions. Coors Field and Target Field have been the main culprits thus far.

    The harsh weather has apparently rubbed off on some players as well.

    Quite a few have gotten off to icy-cold starts, and while weather may have been a factor in some of those starts, some players simply take a while to get warmed up—so to speak.

    Here is a list of MLB players who will likely start warming up very soon.

     

    Note: All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and are current as of Tuesday, April 23.

Mitchell Boggs: St. Louis Cardinals

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    In 2012, reliever Mitchell Boggs put up the best numbers of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He posted a career-best 2.21 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in 78 appearances, largely serving as the setup man to closer Jason Motte.

    With Motte possibly sidelined for the rest of the season with a ligament tear in his elbow, Boggs was given his shot to take over as the ninth-inning specialist. The experiment didn't go well—Boggs blew two saves in four chances and has posted an ugly 12.46 ERA.

      G ERA WHIP H/9 K/9
    2013 10 12.46 2.31 13.5 8.3
    2011-2012 129 2.82 1.19 7.9 7.1
    Career 224 4.05 1.44 9.1 6.7

    Given Boggs' efforts over the past two years, he's clearly headed toward a warming trend at some point soon.

Shawn Camp: Chicago Cubs

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    Reliever Shawn Camp has been a workhorse throughout most of his 10-year career. In fact, he logged 80 appearances last year for the Chicago Cubs, tied for most in the majors.

    Camp was arguably the Cubs' most dependable reliever last year, but that can't be said for his start thus far in 2013.

    Camp has posted a 10.29 ERA in nine appearances with a 1.86 WHIP and 14.1 H/9 rate.

    Camp has never particularly like the month of April, as he's posted a career 4.46 ERA while warming up with a lifetime 3.38 mark in May.

    For Camp, April showers really do bring May flowers. The Cubs can only hope that's the case once again.

Brayan Villarreal: Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit Tigers reliever Brayan Villarreal doesn't have much of a track record to judge a pattern by, but it's probably a safe bet that he couldn't be as bad as what he's shown thus far in the 2013 season.

    His numbers are skewed because of back-to-back appearances in early April in which he gave up eight runs in just two-thirds of an inning. He's at least brought his ERA down from 54.00 to 20.77 since then.

    It's the walks that have absolutely killed Villarreal thus far, issuing eight free passes in just 4.1 innings. He'll need to harness that control if he wants to see that ERA continue to plummet.

Brandon McCarthy: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The biggest changes for Brandon McCarthy during his time with the Oakland Athletics were to his command and location.

    McCarthy posted a 1.6 BB/9 rate during his time with the A's, along with a 3.29 ERA. He limited opportunities for the opposition simply by establishing that command.

    That's been non-existent thus far during his brief time with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    In McCarthy's third start of the season against the New York Yankees, he couldn't get past the fourth inning. He had thrown 102 pitches—he only walked two batters, gave up nine hits and went to full counts against several other hitters.

    McCarthy is simply too good of a pitcher to continue struggling—the 0-2 record and 7.06 ERA is more indicative of a pitcher who needs to make a few adjustments rather than a pitcher who simply doesn't have the stuff to get hitters out.

Josh Reddick: Oakland Athletics

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    After hitting 32 home runs with 85 RBI last season, many likely expected that Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick would again be leading the charge offensively for his team in 2013.

    For now, at least, Reddick is simply trying to take things in stride.

    Manager Bob Melvin believes Reddick has probably put too much pressure on himself.

    Via Jim Hawkins of MLB.com:

    "It's human nature, when you haven't done too well to start, that you try to do too much," Melvin said. "He gets a little frustrated at times. There's a frustration factor that kicks in when you hit the ball hard and have nothing to show for it. He'll keep after it. It all comes back to getting some hits and getting on your way."

    Reddick has shown signs of doing exactly what Melvin said—getting on his way. He's collected five hits in his last three games to raise his average to .164.

    Reddick won't ever be confused with a Joe Mauer-type player, but it's a safe bet that at some point he'll find his way.

Victor Martinez: Detroit Tigers

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    After a year off from baseball, Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is still a wee-bit rusty.

    Martinez got that year off courtesy of a torn ACL suffered during workouts prior to the start of last season. Now fully healthy, he's still trying to find a way to get rid of that rust.

    With a .301 lifetime average, it's safe to assume that Martinez will eventually find his stroke. He's struggled thus far with a .182 average in 17 games and has yet to hit a home run.

    Martinez is a blue-collar kind of guy, acknowledging that he just needs to continue to put the work in.

    “The only thing I can control is just keep working,” Martinez told John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. “Good at-bats, good swings.”

    Folks in Detroit certainly know and appreciate the value of hard work.

Ryan Vogelsong: San Francisco Giants

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    For San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, the start of his 2013 season is certainly typical of his efforts over his career in the month of April.

    Vogelsong has a career 6.14 ERA in April followed by a stellar 2.78 ERA, so fans shouldn't read too much into his 5.68 ERA over his first four starts.

    He hasn't been outright terrible, he simply hasn't been Vogelsong-like.

    But then again, judging by his past Aprils, maybe he has been.

Matt Cain: San Francisco Giants

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    Matt Cain is another San Francisco Giants pitcher who hasn't exactly been himself.

    It's been back-to-back good and bad thus far for Cain. He followed up a scoreless six-inning outing on Opening Day with an absolute stinker six days later, allowing nine runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Cain battled back with a strong seven-inning outing against the Chicago Cubs, giving up just two runs on seven hits. But he regressed once again in his following start, yielding seven runs on seven hits to the Milwaukee Brewers.

    No one is thinking that Cain is headed toward regression. In fact, manager Bruce Bochy believes a couple of bullpen sessions that focus on mechanics is the remedy.

    Via Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com:

    “You look at the video, and he’s at times been a little bit off with his delivery,” Bochy said. “That’s going to affect your command. He left some balls over the middle of the plate (Thursday against Milwaukee). His breaking ball has backed up on him a little bit at times. It is something you iron out in the bullpen.”

    Considering the body of work put up by Cain over the past few seasons, I'm certainly inclined to agree with Bochy.

Jeff Keppinger: Chicago White Sox

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    As a team, the Chicago White Sox haven't exactly shined offensively.

    The White Sox entered action on Tuesday with a .229 team average, 13th in the American League. Several regulars are struggling, including their newest addition, Jeff Keppinger.

    Keppinger is hitting just .171 thus far and has yet to even draw a walk. That's certainly not what the White Sox had envisioned when they signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract.

    As the No. 2 man in the batting order, Keppinger absolutely needs to heat up—he did collect two hits in the loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

    For the White Sox to have any hope of competing in the AL Central, they'll need their two table-setters—
    Alejandro De Aza and Keppinger—to deliver more than a combined .200 average and .212 OBP.

    Don't count Keppinger out quite yet, however, as his track record is just too good.

Adam LaRoche: Washington Nationals

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    The month of April has never been kind to Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.

    He's put up 30 of his 200 home runs in the month, but with just a .220 average and .716 OPS—the lowest figures of any month during his career.

    So it's not altogether surprising that LaRoche is now hitting just .172 with three home runs and eight RBI.

    The good news is that LaRoche heats up with each passing month—much like the weather in the nation's capital.

    Nationals fans shouldn't be terribly worried at this point.

Asdrubal Cabrera: Cleveland Indians

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    With the firepower the Cleveland Indians brought in during the offseason, fans were likely expecting an offense that sizzled.

    For the most part, Cleveland has delivered. They're sixth in the American League in runs scored and tied for second in home runs.

    But shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been largely absent in terms of helping out.

    Cabrera currently sits with a .156 average, two home runs and five RBI. At times he has looked completely lost at the plate with a 26.7 strikeout percentage as well.

    Fear not, Indians fans. Cabrera won't hit .156 for the rest of the season. At some point, the breakout will come.

Cole Hamels: Philadelphia Phillies

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    Cole Hamels was making his fifth start of the season on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first two certainly weren't indicative of a pitcher signed to a $144 million contract.

    Hamels, however, has bounced back, posting a 2.57 ERA in his past three starts, including last night's tough-luck loss.

    Still, an 0-3 start with a 5.40 ERA isn't Hamels-esque at all.

    Considering his efforts in his last three outings, it's a safe bet that Hamels will indeed right the ship.

B.J. Upton: Atlanta Braves

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    B.J. Upton hit his third home run in the top of the fifth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Colorado Rockies. Brother Justin followed up with a homer of his own.

    The back-to-back bombs indeed made history.

    #Braves Uptons became only 2nd brothers to hit back-to-back homers in MLB game, joining Lloyd and Paul Waner of the 1938 Pirates

    — David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) April 24, 2013

    Still, Upton likely didn't imagine that the start of his career with the Atlanta Braves would have been rocky.

    Upton was hitting .162 with three home runs and four RBI as of the sixth inning of Tuesday night's game. Upton isn't going to win any batting championships, but he isn't going to finish the season below the Mendoza line, either.

David Price: Tampa Bay Rays

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    After winning the American League Cy Young Award last season, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price was the toast of the town.

    He signed a $10.11 million contract and took over as the unquestioned ace after the trade of James Shields to the Kansas City Royals.

    However, after Tuesday night's effort against the New York Yankees, Price is now 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA.

    Certainly not Cy Young-like.

    Price has had two no-decisions in which he gave up two runs or less and deserved to win. Even against the Yankees, Price kept his team in the game.

    It's unlikely Price's cold start will last for very long. Three of his five starts have been of the quality variety, so it hasn't been all bad. At some point the shutdown performances will come.

Jason Heyward: Atlanta Braves

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    Hitting .121 with two home runs and five RBI was bad enough, but now Jason Heyward can add an appendectomy to a season that already started poorly.

    Heyward underwent the procedure at a Denver hospital on Monday night, putting him on the disabled list.

    Considering his season thus far, this break may not be a bad thing. Now Heyward can rejuvenate and  continue his 2013 season healthy and with a fresh start.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

    Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.