Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM
As you study the Saturday baseball schedule, what jumps out is the high number of pitchers on the slate who are struggling this year compared to past norms. How do you handicap Tim Lincecum TONIGHT when he’s been so awful this year after being so great before? Do you want to take a shot on Ubaldo Jiminez this afternoon given his inconsistency?
Let’s run through a listing of Saturday pitchers who have been disappointments to their teams, their Las Vegas backers, and certainly themselves. We’ll take them in rotation order so you can make notes on your schedule.
UBALDO JIMINEZ, CLEVELAND
2010: 2.88 ERA
2011: 4.68 ERA
2012: 4.91 ERA so far
This has been one of the most amazing fades in recent memory. Jiminez was a Cy Young candidate while pitching in COLORADO, which should be impossible to do because of the altitude. That park is the greatest hitter’s paradise in modern baseball, yet Jiminez was a true stud with the Rockies. Since coming over to Cleveland, he’s fallen off the map. Yes, the AL is the superior league…but having to play home games in Colorado more than made up for that in terms of statistical projections. Jiminez has lost velocity, and it’s very hard to trust him with your money unless the circumstances line up just right. Maybe facing Pittsburgh’s offense today in IL action will be one of those times. You know, if Jiminez could just move part of the way back to his glory days, Cleveland would become the clear favorites in the AL Central.
JON LESTER, BOSTON
2010: 3.25 ERA
2011: 3.47 ERA
2012: 4.57 ERA so far
Several players have been disappointments for the Red Sox this year, which is why they’re dealing with the cellar of the AL East rather than a pennant race. There’s still time for Lester to bounce back and lead a second half run. But, we’re pretty deep into this season and he’s not throwing like a guy who’s going to dominate his division down the stretch in an era of unbalanced schedules. He does get to face the lousy Cubs today. If the wind is blowing out, that’s no bargain. Note that Boston is 5-8 in Lester’s starts this year. And, he’s generally pricey because he’s a respected name throwing for a projected contender.
JAMES SHIELDS, TAMPA BAY
2011: 2.82 ERA
2012: 4.06 ERA so far
Shields looked to have arrived as a Major League start in 2011 after a few seasons as a tease. He’s back to being a tease this season. Vegas prices him like an ace because he has such strong peripheral stats. He’s just not getting the job done the way a staff ace should though. Important game for him tonight against Miami because the Rays need to make up for that horrible series with the Mets.
ERVIN SANTANA, LA ANGELS
2010: 3.92 ERA
2011: 3.38 ERA
2012: 5.74 ERA
Ouch…where did that come from?! That’s worse than what we’ve seen from the other guys listed by quite a bit. Santana has to get hot just to rise to the level of disappointment. The Halos really need him to perform if they’re going to continue their recent surge and make a run at the playoffs. Right now he’s not even qualified to be in a rotation given his overall numbers. He’s high paid…so the Angels are going to keep putting him out there hoping he finds his form. A manageable test on the slate tonight at home against Arizona. If he flops here….that’s very bad news for the coming weeks. Note that the Angels are 4-3 in his last seven starts after beginning 0-6…but his recent stats are still bad.
TIM LINCECUM, SAN FRANCISCO
2010: 3.43 ERA
2011: 2.74 ERA
2012: 6.00 ERA
This is just inexplicable in terms of the math. Now, some critics have said that his mechanics were a disaster waiting to happen…and that may be turning out to be true this season. He’s lost velocity…and he’s obviously not scaring anybody. Remember that the Giants get to play a lot of games in very good pitching environments at home and on the road in their division. So, a 6.00 as a Giant is truly horrific. A road game in Seattle will at least give Lincecum a shot to compete given the way the Mariners have been struggling of late. Note that the Giants have lost Lincecum’s last eight starts, and are 2-11 with him this year. He’s been the single biggest drain on their pennant hopes in the NL West.
PHILIP HUMBER, CHICAGO WHITE SOX
2011: 3.75 ERA
2012: 5.92 ERA
Astonishingly, Humber has a perfect game THIS YEAR and still has an ERA near 6.00 overall. He’s been a disaster since that perfecto, and should probably be an automatic go-against in your arsenal until he pitches well. The park should help him tonight at Chavez Ravine. But, he’s facing the team that may represent the NL in the World Series in the Dodgers. The White Sox are 3-6 in Humber’s starts since the gem in Seattle.
Quite an assortment! Oddsmakers have to price them as best they see fit. Most have been splitting the difference between this year and the past…typically posting soft openers then letting the sharps move the line to where it should be. But, we have to admit that many sharps have been caught by surprise by the SUSTAINED nature of some of these slumps. There was just no way Lincecum was going to keep losing. Humber could have a couple of bad starts after the perfecto, but WEEKS of throwing batting practice? The market as a whole has trailed the impact of these guys. You can find betting value by making the right choices at the right times with this set of pitchers.
We’re definitely looking to go against them or bet Overs in the worst of situations confronting them in terms of opposing offenses and ballpark effects. Today’s challenges may not be as daunting as what comes up next time, or the time after that. There are some real problems with these mystery pitchers and do-it-yourself handicappers need to figure out how to take advantage.
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NY Yankees at Washington on the MLB Network (early start)
Cincinnati at NY Mets on FOX
Boston at Chicago on FOX
Baltimore at Atlanta on FOX
Miami at Tampa Bay on FOX
Chicago White Sox at LA Dodgers on WGN and MLB (late night)
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