Hurlers so bad,they’re good!

May 31, 2005 6:21 AM

Sports bettors can look at baseball starters in several different ways. One would be good starting pitchers, who might be worth a look to support in the right situation with the right price. Another method is to look at overrated pitchers to go against.

Some pitchers have past reputations of being very effective. This is especially true in the first third of the season when many bettors are still looking at last year’s stats. However, this is a new season. Sometimes pitchers don’t throw the same as last year, either because they are hurting, have changed teams, are in new ball parks, or simply age is catching up.

Here’s a look at some starters who haven’t pitched well, even if their record may suggest otherwise.

Russ Ortiz: If you ever had any doubts about Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone being the best in the business, take a close look at Ortiz. He has the reputation of an ace and was a big free agent signing by the Diamondbacks. The last two seasons with the Braves, Ortiz went 21-7 and 15-9. However, despite a 4-3 record to start this season, this guy has been awful.

Opponents are hitting over .300 off him, with 69 hits and 31 walks in 55 innings. His new team is 2-3 in his last five starts. Ortiz has allowed 22 walks and 20 runs in his last 24 innings! Forget about reputation. For whatever reason, this guy doesn’t have it and is not even close to being an effective starting pitcher right now.

Kaz Ishii: New York went on a spending spree in the offseason, signing many high priced stars, including Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. While those two have excelled, newcomer Kaz Ishii has been a bust. Ishii has always had poor control while with the Dodgers and has walked 18 in 29 innings with a 5.59 ERA. The Mets went 0-3 in his first three starts.

Victor Zambrano: Another New York Mets bust. Zambrano has allowed 31 walks in 48 innings, while the Mets have gone 1-4 in his last five outings. He’s earned that inflated 5.18 ERA, which is even more embarrassing when you realize he pitches in Shea Stadium, one of the largest and best parks for pitchers in the majors. He was traded from Tampa Bay to the Mets less than a year ago. When the Devil Rays don’t want you”¦

Eric Milton: "Meatball" Milton allowed 43 home runs last season, most in the majors. In 10 starts this season covering 57 innings he’s allowed 10 homers. The Reds lost six of his first nine starts. He’s also 0-3 on the road with an 11.84 ERA.

Pedro Astacio: The 35-year old Astacio has had a decent major league career, but one has to wonder if he’s out of gas. He started 2-1 with a 1.54 ERA allowing no home runs with his new team (Texas). After that, the Rangers lost five straight games started by Astacio, who allowed 26 runs and six home runs in 22 innings pitched. With pitching so thin in baseball, he’ll likely be a starter somewhere the rest of the season.

Jeff Weaver: The slumping Dodgers can trace part of their woes to the No. 4 and 5 starting pitchers. Up and down Weaver has a 5.59 ERA with opponents hitting a robust .298 off him. They’ve managed to win six of his first nine starts, but can that continue with an ERA well over five?

Scott Erickson: LA’s No. 5 starter, 37-year old Scott Erickson, hasn’t looked his age. He’s looked more like a 47-year old pitcher, with a 7.22 ERA allowing 10 homers in 38 innings. Keep this in mind: Erickson allows opponents to hit just .239 off him in spacious Dodger Stadium, but .406 on the road. LA is on a 1-5 run in this starts.

Paul Wilson: This journeyman had a career season a year ago, with an 11-6 record. However, this is not 2004 and Wilson has been getting shelled. Opponents are teeing off (.343 batting average, including .383 at home!) and Wilson’s ERA has ballooned to 7.77. The Reds lost seven of Wilson’s first eight starts and he’s yielded at least five runs in five of his last seven starts.