MLB Power Rankings: Who Is Each Team’s Biggest Pitching Disappointment so Far
The 2011 MLB season is almost two months in, yet some starting pitchers are still hard at work trying to solve their command and velocity issues that have hindered their performances thus far. Whether its a former ace in the swan song of his career, or a rookie not living up to expectations, these struggling pitchers are the focus of this slide show.
Without further ado, here is a list of each team's most disappointing starting pitcher as of May 30th.
Florida Marlins: Javier Vazquez
Up until 2007, Javier Vazquez had always been a mediocre pitcher who usually finished the season with an equal amount of wins and losses and an ERA somewhere in the low-4.00 range.
However, that season, his second of three with the Chicago White Sox, he finished 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA. Just two seasons after that in 2009, Vazquez found himself pitching for Atlanta, where he became one of the club's aces and finished the year 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA in 32 appearances.
But since that time, Vazquez has struggled mightily.
This season, he is 3-4 with a 6.02 ERA in ten games with the Marlins. He has recorded 30 strikeouts and 27 walks, and opponents are batting nearly .300 against him.
New York Mets: R.A. Dickey
Although Mike Pelfrey struggled during the beginning of this season, his most recent start was a very strong outing, so Dickey is the unlucky recipient of being named the team's biggest disappointment on the mound.
Although the knuckleballer finished last season with a record near .500 (11-9), his ERA was 2.84 and his strikeout count was just more than 100. When he lost a game, it seemed as though it was because of the Mets' lack of offense, not his lack of efficiency.
But through Memorial Day, 2011 has been a struggle for Dickey, who is currently trying to pitch through a torn plantar fascia. He's currently 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA through 60 innings pitched. His number of strikeouts is well above his walk count, a 35-to-21 margin, but, once again, the Mets' offense is unable to support his efforts on the mound.
Atlanta Braves: Mike Minor
Although highly-touted prospect Julio Teheran has struggled in his two starts this season, I feel as though it's unfair to declare a rookie as the team's worst pitcher; so Mike Minor "wins" by default.
So far this season, the Braves' starting five have put up some of the best numbers in all of baseball. But when Brandon Beachy, the man who beat Minor for the fifth starting spot in spring training, went down with an injury a few weeks ago, Minor was called upon to fill his spot in the rotation.
Although Minor's first few starts of last season went extremely well, he showed serious fatigue in his last couple of starts, and he was not utilized by the team late in the season or during the postseason. So far this season. Minor is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA, and opponents are batting .341 against him.
Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee? Hear me out.
So far this season, Lee has been good, no doubt. But he hasn't been as good as everyone thought he'd be. Roy Halladay has been leaps and bounds better than Lee, with the exception of Lee's brilliant start against his former team, the Texas Rangers.
However, in his two starts against the division rival Atlanta, Lee has been hit hard, as the Braves scored six runs in the first game they saw him, and three in the second. In his most recent start against the Reds, he allowed four earned runs in eight innings.
Washington Nationals: John Lannan
After finally finishing with a non-losing record for the first time in his career last season (8-8), Lannan is struggling so far this season.
He is current 2-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 11 games pitched for the Washington Nationals this season. He's also struck out 37 batters while walking 25.
One of Lannan's biggest downfalls is an inability to pitch deep into games, as he rarely makes it out of the sixth inning in each of his starts. This means that the Nats' bullpen is working much harder than it would like to so early in the season.
Milwaukee Brewers: Zack Greinke
Although Zack Greinke is 3-1 with his new team, his 2011 season, which just kicked off on May 4th thanks impart to an injury he sustained playing a game of basketball, is off to a rough start.
He's allowed four, two, five, four and three earned runs in his five starts this season, which puts his ERA at 5.79. Despite the high ERA, it is important to point out Greinke's 39 strikeouts compared to his three walks.
He's likely to lower his ERA in the upcoming months, but with most of the Brewers other starting five with at least five wins, Greinke is the unlucky recipient of the "Biggest Pitching Disappointment" so far this season for the Brewers.
Houston Astros: J.A. Happ
While pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, J.A. Happ went 12-4 and finished with a 2.93 ERA in 35 games. Thus, when the Astros dealt their ace Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in exchange for Happ and other players, they were expecting Happ to be a solid starter and eventual ace.
But Happ is off to a rough start this season, as he is 3-6 with a 4.66 ERA. He's struck out a lot of batters, 52, but he has also walked 31.
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter
Although the St. Louis Cardinals are off to a torrid start this young season, the ace of their rotation, Chris Carpenter, has only notched one win.
When Carpenter's co-ace, if you will, Adam Wainwright went down with an injury in spring training, much of the team's success was thought to be balancing on Carpenter's shoulders. But he has yet to live up to expectations, at least, as of now.
He's currently 1-5 with a 4.58 ERA through 11 starts this season. Through 70 2/3 innings pitched, opponents are batting just under .300 against him. Although Carpenter's last outing was an impressive eight inning performance against the San Diego Padres, there was a stretch in early May when he allowed four, four and seven earned runs in three consecutive starts, something very uncharacteristic for the Cardinals' ace.
Chicago Cubs: Doug Davis
Doug Davis, who finds himself playing for his third different team in three years, has only started three games so far this season for the Cubs, but he's struggled mightily in two of them.
He currently finds himself at 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. So far this season, he's struck out 12 batters and walked 10.
Although his first start in the Cubs' rotation was an five-inning, one-run appearance against the defending World Series champion Giants, his last two were less-than-five-innings outings against both the Red Sox and Pirates, where he allowed seven and two earned runs, respectively.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm, who hasn't finished a season above .500 since 2005 when he went 3-1 in six games, has struggled each of the past few years, and 2011 is no exception.
So far, Maholm has posted a 2-7 record, although his ERA is 3.18, not nearly as high as one would expect by looking solely at his win-loss record.
After a tough April, in which he went 1-4 and allowed 14 earned runs, Maholm was able to turn his season around somewhat in May, in which, to date, he's only allowed 8 earned runs in 33 2/3 innings pitched.
Cincinnati Reds: Edinson Volquez
After going 17-6 in 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds, Edinson Volquez has been unable to stay healthy and been very ineffective at times and unable to maintain control of his pitches. This season was no exception.
So the Reds did what they thought was best for Volquez - they demoted him to Triple-A to iron out his issues on the mound.
Although Volquez was 3-2 at the time of his demotion, he had a 6.35 ERA and was allowing an average of nearly seven walks per nine innings.
In his first appearance at the Triple-A level, Volquez pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits with five strikeouts. He'll be back in Cincinnati soon, however, as Homer Bailey, another of the team's starters, remains on the disabled list.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Joe Saunders
When the Diamondbacks shipped their then-ace Dan Haren to the Angels in exchange for Joe Saunders, they expected big things from Saunders. But he has yet to truly deliver since arriving in the desert.
Currently, Saunders is 1-5 with a 4.65 ERA and 27 walks, compared to his 30 strikeouts. He didn't record his first win of the season until May 24th against the Colorado Rockies, a game in which he allowed two earned runs over eight innings.
Despite the strong performance last time out, Saunders is still recovering from his horrid April, a month in which he allowed 18 earned runs in only five games.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jon Garland
Every member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation is hovering around .500 and has an ERA in the mid-threes to low-fours, so Garland was the pick from the group solely because of his win-loss record.
Currently, Garland is 1-4 with a 4.31 ERA through eight starts this season for the Dodgers. He has also struck out 26 batters while walking 19, not the best strikeout-walk ratio.
Garland went 14-12 with the San Diego Padres last season and was a key piece to their near-Wild Card run, so the Dodgers expected Garland to perform at least a little better than he currently is. Although run support has been an issue for Garland at certain times this season, he'll still need to improve if the wants the number in the win column to rise.
San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner is not having a bad season but any means, but Tim Lincecum's ERA is sub-2.25 and Ryan Vogelsong is 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA. Bumgarner unfortunately gets this title by default.
Through 11 starts this season, Bumgarner is 2-6 with a 3.66 ERA. He's walked 22 batters, nearly half of his strikeout total of 46. His win-loss record appears to be so lopsided because of the Giants lack of run support for the second-year pitcher. He did allow 16 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings pitched in the month of April.
Once the Giants heat up, Bumgarner's record will likely even out. But until then, his numbers seem to make him the weak spot in the Giants' starting five.
San Diego Padres: Mat Latos
Last season, Mat Latos went 14-10 with a sub-three ERA in 31 starts for the San Diego Padres. That being said, the Padres expected Latos to pick up right where he left off this season. Unfortunately, he has yet to return to his late-2010 form.
As of May 30th, Latos is 2-6 with a 4.08 ERA in nine starts this season. He's struck out 50 batters and walked only 19, so his efficiency is still there, but Latos needs to get dialed in in order for the Padres to give the hot-hitting Rockies and Giants a run for the NL West crown.
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
At the conclusion of May last season, Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez was 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA and had a no-hitter under his belt.
Through the end of May this season, Jimenez has yet to record a win, as he is 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA in nine starts. He's also struck out 45 batters while walking 30.
One downside to Jimenez's impressive start last season is that baseball writers are going to provide comparisons to it for the rest of his career, something that makes Jimenez's not-good-but-not-horrible start to the 2011 season appear much worse than it really is.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Ervin Santana
Just as Giants starter Madison Bumgarner did not fully deserve to make this list, Angels starter Ervin Santana has not performed as poorly as other pitchers. But impressive starts to 2011 by his teammates Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Joel Pineiro and Tyler Chatwood have forced him onto this list.
After his start on May 30th, a game in which he allowed six earned runs in six innings against the Kansas City Royals, Santana found himself at 3-4 with a 3.95 ERA.
Despite his sub-par start, one impressive statistic worth noting is Santana's strikeout-walk ratio, which currently sits at 61 to 17.
Oakland Athletics: Josh Outman
Josh Outman's 2011 season is just underway, as he has only made two starts after being called up to fill one of the vacant spots in the Athletics' starting rotation.
But Outman was sent to Triple-A during spring training after giving up 12 runs, 23 hits and seven walks in 11 innings of work.
However, due to injuries to members of Oakland's starting five, including Dallas Braden, the team will be relying heavily on Outman to anchor the bottom of their rotation.
Currently, Outman is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He has recorded four strikeouts and walked eight batters, something he'll need to cut down on if he plans on staying in the majors for long.
Seattle Mariners: Jason Vargas
Mariners No. 2 starter Jason Vargas is off to a mediocre start, better than most on this list. However, due to impressive starts by other members of the Mariners' starting five, specifically Michael Pineda, Vargas finds his way onto this list.
Vargas has never finished a season above .500, and, if things stay the way they are going, he is going to cut it close again this season.
He's currently 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA and has recorded 44 strikeouts and 22 walks. Opponents are batting .266 against Vargas, who will need to step it up a notch to make up for the seemingly-looming collapse of the rookie Pineda.
Texas Rangers: Colby Lewis
All of the Rangers' starting five, with the exception of Alexi Ogando, are flirting with a record of .500 and have an ERA in the mid-three range. But, as has been the case with so many pitchers on this list up to this point, Colby Lewis' win-loss record is below .500, so he is on here by default.
Lewis is currently 4-5 with a 3.90 ERA, 18 walks and 47 strikeouts. After a rough go of things in April, a month that saw Lewis have a 5.70 ERA and allow 19 earned runs, Lewis has turned things around in May and looks to build on that for the rest of the season.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jo-Jo Reyes
After being pulled in the third inning in the Toronto Blue Jays' May 25th game against the New York Yankees, Jo-Jo Reyes landed in the record books.
It was his 28th consecutive start without recording a win, a Major League record-tying feat. In fact, Reyes hasn't won since June 13, 2008.
Currently, Reyes is 0-4 with a 4.70 ERA in 10 starts for the Blue Jays this season. In games Reyes has started for the team since arriving in 2010, the Blue Jays are 7-21, so even the relievers are pitching poorly when Reyes takes the mound.
If things continue going the way they are for Reyes, he may never have the chance to end the streak, as the Blue Jays are likely to give up on him sometime soon. Right?
Baltimore Orioles: Jeremy Guthrie
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie has had at least 10 wins in each season since 2008, but, if things continue going the way they are for him, 2011 will be the end of that statistic.
Currently, Guthrie is 2-6 with a 3.63 in 11 appearances (10 starts) with the Orioles this year. His strikeout-walk ratio, 40-to-10, is an impressive statistic, but his ERA and win-loss record are nothing to boast about thus far into 2011.
If the Orioles can swing hot bats like they were doing at the beginning of the season, Guthrie will have no problem reaching the 10-win plateau for the fourth straight season. But if not, he'll need to improve his command, if only slightly, to get their on his own.
Boston Red Sox: John Lackey
John Lackey, who currently sits on the 15-day disabled list, is off to one of, if not the, worst starts in his 10-year Major League career.
At the time of his injury, Lackey was 2-5 with an 8.01 ERA in seven starts with the Boston Red Sox this season. Currently, Lackey has struck out 19 batters and walked 18. Also, opponents are hitting .317 off of him.
He made his season debut on April 2nd against the Texas Rangers, a game in which he allowed nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Following that start, Lackey went on to make six more starts for the Red Sox, three of which saw him allow six or more earned runs.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jeff Niemann
Tampa Bay Rays starter Jeff Niemann, who, like Red Sox starter John Lackey, is currently on the 15-day disabled list, has struggled immensely so far this season.
At the time of his injury, Niemann was 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA in six starts for the Rays. He'd struck out 17 batters while walking seven, and opponents were hitting .286 off of him.
Niemann has finished well-above .500 in each of the past two seasons, as he went 13-6 and 12-8, respectively. Upon returning from the disabled list, the Rays will need him to sharpen up if they plan on keeping up with the red hot Red Sox.
New York Yankees: Phil Hughes
In keeping up with the theme of selecting poor playing pitchers who are injured, the Yankees' weakest link pitching-wise is Phil Hughes, who's currently sitting on the 60-day disabled list.
In his three starts before succumbing to injury this season, Hughes was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA. He had struck out three batters and walked four, and opponents were teeing off on him, hitting .396.
In fact, Hughes allowed five or more earned runs in each of his three starts on the season, games against the Detroit Tigers and division foes Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
Hughes is expected to begin facing live batters again soon, as he will need to return and be effective just in case Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia slip up and return to not-so-good form from years past.
Cleveland Indians: Fausto Carmona
Cleveland Indians ace Fausto Carmona is off to a slow start in 2011, despite the team's torrid beginning to the young season.
Through his 11 starts thus far, Carmona is 3-5 with a 4.73 ERA. He's struck out 47 batters and walked 20, and opponents are batting .239 of off him.
After allowing 10 earned runs in his season debut against the Chicago White Sox, Carmona's ERA has begun to descend, despite giving up six earned runs to the Minnesota Twins and eight against the White Sox again.
Kansas City Royals: Sean OSullivan
Although the Kansas City Royals are off to one of their best starts in recent history, most of their starting five are below .500, including Sean O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan is 2-4 so far this season and currently has an ERA of 6.75. He's also walked 24 batters this season while striking out only 17. Opponents are batting .307 off of him.
In his two previous seasons in the big leagues, O'Sullivan never started more than 14 games, something the Royals will have to keep in mind this season. So far, he's already notched eight starts, so they'll need to preserve his arm to avoid having to make a late-season minor league call-up.
Detroit Tigers: Phil Coke
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Phil Coke, who currently sits on the 15-day disabled list, is off to a cold start this season.
At the time of his injury, Coke was 1-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) with the Tigers this season. He'd walked 16 batters while striking out 30, and opposing hitters were batting .244 against him.
Coke, who moved into the Tigers' starting rotation this season, will need to find a way to avoid injury to give the Tigers a chance at a division title. He's already just 12 innings away from his career-high in innings pitched, 64 2/3.
Minnesota Twins: Carl Pavano
The battle to be named the Minnesota Twins' most disappointing pitcher came down to Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, with Pavano earning the nod thanks impart to Liriano's no-hitter earlier in the season.
Pavano had an outstanding 2010 season, as he finished with a 17-11 record and and a 3.75 ERA. In fact, his season was so good that he became one of the most sought after pitchers during the off-season, a battle the Twins won.
But 2011 has gotten off to a rough start for Pavano, who is currently 2-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 starts this season. Opponents are batting .291 off of him and he's walked 16 batters while striking out only 26.
He'll need to buckle down and solve his early season woes if the Twins plan on returning to the postseason once again.
Chicago White Sox: John Danks
Chicago White Sox starter John Danks has posted at least 12 wins in each of the past three seasons, but 2011 has not been kind to him at all.
Currently, Danks sits at 0-8 in 11 starts this season. His ERA rests at 5.25 and he's walked 25 batters while striking out 46. Opponents are batting .293 off of Danks as well.
Things were starting to turn around for Danks until his last outing, in which he allowed nine earned runs in four innings pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The White Sox need Danks to turn his season around, and quickly.
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