Top pitchers to wager against

Jun 26, 2007 6:05 AM

Sports bettors can look at baseball starters in two ways — backing or betting against.

Some pitchers have past reputations of being very effective. This is especially true in the first half 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. The reasons can range from injuries, switching teams, pitching in new ball parks or age catching up. Older pitchers like we saw last week with Curt Schilling (15 day DL) and Randy Johnson (bad back) and begin to break down.

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

Doug Davis: The Arizona lefty had a good ERA early in the season, but he was getting hit and walking a lot of batters. That’s not a good predictor of success. Those weaknesses have caught up with him of late, as the Diamondbacks lost 5 of his 7 starts.

Davis matches up particularly poorly against offensive teams that are patient at the plate: In recent consecutive losses to the Red Sox and Yankees, Davis walked 10 batters in 9 innings.

Kameron Loe: Things are so bad with the Texas Rangers pitching staff that they demoted Loe to Triple-A, then called him back up the next day because of an injury to another starter. Loe fired a 5-hit shutout over 8 innings in his return. However, that was against the Pirates, one of the worst offensive teams in the NL.

Prior to that, the Rangers had lost 8-of 9-starts by Loe. Even after that gem against the Pirates, batters were still hitting .310 against Loe and his 6.56 ERA. Texas started 5-11 in his first 16 starts.

Kevin Millwood: The Rangers pitching is so bad it’s easy to find more go-against candidates. In this case, the veteran Millwood is a "name" pitcher, but he’s fallen off the charts this season after going 16-12 a year ago.

Texas got two recent victories in games Millwood started, even though he allowed 10 hits, 5 runs in 5 innings in one and 10 hits, 4 runs in 5 innings in the other. Texas won both games 9-8. It’s nice to squeeze out wins like that, but how often can they do that with the starter pitching so poorly?

Andy Sonnanstine: Who? Tampa Bay has two quality starters in Scott Kazmir and James Shields, but they are desperately searching for No. 3, 4 and 5. The 24-year old undrafted righty was recently thrown into the rotation to provide some innings.

Two things about Sonnanstine stand out: He’s not a workhorse, averaging 6 innings per start. This is bad news as the Devil Rays bullpen is awful. Also, he allowed a whopping six home runs in his first 3 starts. Tee-ball type numbers.

Daniel Cabrera: This is a guy who always appears to be borderline: Great fastball, unhittable stuff at times, but prone to implosions. That’s common with relatively young pitchers. Cabrera’s big problem is control, with 46 walks in 97 innings. That explains a 5.20 ERA.

After a decent start, when the weather was colder, the Orioles lost 7 of Cabrera’s 11 starts. You might call him the "King of Inconsistency." After an impressive 8-2 win over mighty Cleveland (3 hits allowed), he gave up 6 runs in 6 innings to Tampa Bay. After a 9-5 win over Seattle (8 innings), Cabrera was bombed by the Washington Nationals, giving up 7 runs in 4.2 innings and losing as a -175 favorite. Be cautious of inconsistent starters.

Ted Lilly: The Cubs lefty doesn’t throw hard, with a great curveball that’s seemingly perfect for the National League. However, after a great start, he has been hit hard. The Cubs went 0-4 over four recent outings, as Lilly gave up 21 hits and 16 earned runs in 20 innings. His overall numbers are still pretty good, just not lately. NL hitters mayve finally catching up to him?