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All-Star managers will announce their bench players and pitching staffs this week, so along the same lines I thought I’d announce my Las Vegas All-Stars – the best bet-against pitchers for the first half of the season.

How many times have you looked at a baseball sheet, saw who was pitching and forced a bet just from their name alone? It happens all the time, but usually we look at the pitchers we expect to win, like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee or C.C. Sabathia.

It’s quite often that many of us take those pitchers and opt to take the run-line with them to shorten the price. But sometimes, it’s better to look at pitchers to bet against because they seem to really be bad all the time.

The great pitcher can still be that and win 2-1, but the bad one really takes some skill to continuously get beat by two runs or more all season.

Sometimes you almost feel guilty for picking on one these kids, but they’ve established a trend. They’re bad and they do it well.

J.A. Happ (3-10) is the best awful pitching going right now. I realize Houston wants to give him major league time, but every time he goes out there he gets blasted. How many times is he supposed to learn a lesson from getting hammered? The way he’s going, 20 losses in a season is very obtainable.

In his time with Philadelphia we saw glimpses that he might be a really good pitcher, and he still might be, but right now he’s the hottest bet-against pitcher in baseball.

The Astros have lost his nine starts and eight of them have been by two runs or more. Every five days since May 19 bettors could rely on a return of their investment by betting against him. And in eight of those nine losses, the run-line has cashed.

In his 17 starts this season, the Astros lost 14 of them, with 11 being by two-runs or more. In early May, Happ had a run going where he won two of three starts but hasn’t won since. He currently is on a run that progressively worsens with each start.

In his last five starts, the Astros have been beaten by four runs or more, which gives great comfort to bettors not having to sweat the close games.

Roy Halladay has similar numbers from the winning side, but Happ’s ability to allow his team to lose by two runs or more makes him the top bettable – or bet-against – pitcher in baseball.

Kyle Davies (1-7) drew a collective sorrow felt in sports books across Nevada when he went on the disabled list following his start on May 16, a 19-1 beat down by Cleveland, because Davies was a roll.

After the then red-hot Royals won two of his first three starts of the season, Davies went on a tear – giving losses to the Royals in six straight starts.

When Davies returned last Saturday, he picked up right where he left off with a 9-6 loss to the Rockies. In the Royals eight losses this season that Davies has started, seven have been by two runs or more.

Doug Davis (1-7) shocked the betting community with his June 17 win over the mighty Yankees in their visit to Wrigley Field, allowing only one run. Other than that, though, Davis has been very consistent with the Cubs – losing all eight of his other starts.

It’s a shame we missed him for the first six weeks of the baseball season while he was in retirement mode, but we’re thankful the Cubs continue to show faith in him and put him on the mound every five days.

However, if he has another outing like he did last week against the Giants where he gave up 10 runs in four innings, the gravy train could be over and the Cubs may give one of their prospects a shot at starting. In the Cubs eight losses he’s started, they have been beat by two runs or more seven times.

Jamie Guthrie (3-9) has had a decent career but he’s having an awful time of it in 2011. The Orioles are 6-12 in his starts this season. Although the team is 2-2 in his last four starts, he was brilliant earlier this season when the Orioles went through a stretch where they lost seven of his eight starts – all by two runs of more.

Of the 12 losses the O’s have experienced, 11 have been by two runs or more, which is pretty consistent and more reliable than betting one of those winning pitchers.

Fausto Carmona (4-10) can really irritate you once in a while with a good performance, but he’s been consistently bad all season, especially since the middle of May.

The Indians are 7-11 with him on the mound and only two of those 11 losses have come by one-run. Since May 19, the Indians are 2-7 with Carmona.

 Have a Coke and smile when Phil Coke (1-8) is on the mound. Because of a few instances where he has pitched well, Coke even finds himself as the favorite occasionally, but overall the Tigers are 5-11 when he takes the mound.

The Tigers are currently on a stretch where they’ve lost four of his last five starts.

Clayton Richard (4-9) is doing his best to get off the dubious list after winning his last two starts, but we can’t forget about how great he was prior when the Padres lost 12 of his 15 starts.

Richard was so reliable at one point that the Padres had lost 10 games over an 11 game stretch he started. However, Richard gets points taken away in the polling because the Padres lost by one-run five times over that stretch.

Doug Fister (3-9) has really good stuff, but never gets any help from Seattle‘s bats. Because of the good stuff he has, many bettors shy away from him and even choose to bet on him, but he’s currently on a streak where the Mariners have lost five of his last six starts.

Overall, the M’s are 5-12 in his starts, yet he still maintains a nice 3.02 ERA. The best bet with Fister this season has been a two team parlay of betting against him and the under. In his last six starts, that combo has worked out four times.

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