By Marc Lawrence
If it's June, school is out. And so too will be the NBA (we think). It's also the time of the season when MLB pitchers look to ace exams in hopes of keeping their teams in the pennant chase. To get a better feel on what to expect, let's examine their results from exams in the past.
Listed below are hurlers that have enjoyed a two-to-one or better success ratio in team starts the last three seasons during the month of June. On the flip side, we've also listed pitchers that struggle in June 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 June over the last three years. I'll be back next month with July's Good Month Pitchers. Until then, enjoy...
GOOD MONTH PITCHERS:
Floyd, Gavin • 13-5
The White Sox right-hander is a rock solid middle of the rotation hurler, who is on pace to break previous career lows in ERA, WHIP and batting average allowed. If Chicago can start to score runs, Floyd should produce another super June.
Galarraga, Armando • 14-3
Because Galarraga could not command his fastball (22 walks in 42 1/3 innings) and hit too many bats otherwise, Arizona designated him for assignment and his next move is the minors or being waived.
Harden, Rich • 8-4
Was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 18 and is restricted to strengthening exercises for his shoulder injury. His season is very much in doubt and is on the DL for the 10th time in his career.
Hernandez, Felix • 11-3
When doesn't King Felix pitch well, especially considering some of Seattle teams he's played for. Hernandez can be expected to match previous June's since he's really gotten the feel for his changeup, which he's used increasingly more as an out-pitch to compliment his other filthy stuff.
Kazmir, Scott 8-4
The Angels left-hander is attempting to return from back problems and his most recent rehab start in Triple-A did not go well (24 strikes in 50 pitches), allowing six earned runs. Kazmir is a shadow of the pitcher he was at Tampa Bay.
Kendrick, Kyle • 7-3
Now a relief pitcher for Philadelphia because of their strong starting staff, Kendrick has been a spot starter on two occasions this season with mixed results.
Lackey, John • 12-4
The Red Sox hurler went on the DL on May 12 with a right elbow strain. Lackey's been throwing bullpen sessions and was tentatively scheduled for minor league rehab start on May 31. If that goes well, the former Angels chucker could be recalled as soon as June 5. Another pitcher whose lost velocity and snap on his breaking pitches.
Lee, Cliff • 12-5
The Phillies lefty has been a little off this season, mostly because he's on target to permit the most walks since 2004 when he was still in Cleveland. Maybe the warmer temperatures will get Lee back on his game and lead Philadelphia to more victories.
Lester, Jon • 11-4
One of the finest pitchers in baseball from May thru September and dependable as they come. Lester has the classic left-hander delivery, likes to establish strike one with all hitters and prefers to cut his low to mid-90's fastball to right hand hitters and build around it.
Lilly, Ted • 12-6
After a deplorable start, Lilly has lowered his ERA more than a run and half. Make sure to watch what time of day the Dodger port-sider is pitching, since he has huge disparity. (6.33 ERA in day games and 2.97 at night)
Lincecum, Tim • 12-5
Because San Francisco can't score, Lincecum's record does not belie how well he's thrown. "The Freak" coasts in low the 90's with fastball, has improved power slider and Lincecum's throwing motion on his change-up is virtually indiscernible.
Nolasco, Ricky • 11-5
The Florida starter has a sound repeatable delivery and throws a few different fastballs that match almost perfectly with tightly-spun curveball that he will throw on any count. Watch for Nolasco on the road since he and Marlins mates are 15-4 when he toes the rubber and 11-2 away from home when the money line is +125 to -125 the last two seasons.
Sabathia, CC • 11-4
In the same mold as Lester, manager Joe Girardi knows what to count on from his big southpaw game in game out. Once again Sabathia is a nightmare to left hand batters who are hitting just .197 against him.
Wakefield, Tim • 10-5
With all the injuries to Boston starting pitchers, the old knuckleballer is there to give skipper Terry Francona a reliable fifth starter when called upon. To date Wakefield is conceding his lowest batting average allowed in three years.
Weaver, Jered • 10-5
It's been a crazy campaign for the Anaheim ace, being the first pitcher since 1884 (that's correct 127 years ago) to start the year with six straight wins and lose the next four times. With any run support, Weaver should return to winning ways this month.
BAD MONTH PITCHERS:
Blanton, Joe • 5-11
The Phillies fifth starter is on the DL for a second time this season with his right elbow. Blanton is prohibited from throwing until at least June 10 and his exact return is uncertain.
Garland, Jon • 5-11
Strictly a back of the rotation starter at this point of his career. Garland is on pace to surrender a .270 or higher batting average allowed for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Hudson, Tim • 4-8
Back stiffness again bothered Hudson at the end May, however this was expected to be a temporary setback. Has pitched more to contact this season with strikeouts down and prefers Turner Field (3.10 ERA) to the road (5.33).
Santana, Johan • 4-13
Still recovering from shoulder surgery last September, Santana has been throwing at the Mets spring training complex and is on pace for a late July return to New York barring no setbacks.
Doug Upstone of 3Daily Winners contributed to this article