April is a month for panic and lack of patience and some of the league’s best starters are certainly inviting fans into April’s web of emotions thanks to ridiculously small sample sizes and poor performances. Adam Wainwright has been stinking up St. Louis while David Price‘s debut in Boston has been anything but strong.
Matt Harvey has gone from the Dark Knight to the Bright Knight thanks to how badly he’s been getting lit up and Chris Archer is being handed oranges and not utilizing his home turf of Tropicana Field to make orange juice. Factor in Zack Greinke‘s cold beginnings in the desert of Arizona and it makes for a lot of All Stars pitching like they’re in black holes. So who should we be concerned about and who is having a bad month? Let’s review:
New York Mets- Matt Harvey: A stranger to drama he is not, but Harvey could make things a lot easier on himself if he didn’t post a 5.24 ERA in his first 22.1 innings. Strikeouts are down, hits are up and age is not to blame for the 27-year-old, neither is the Tommy John surgery he successfully returned from and pitched well after, last year. All should stay well in Queens, however, as Harvey has a career worst in ERA and WHIP in 89.1 innings in April in his career.
Boston Red Sox – David Price: Price was the coveted ace the Red Sox bought over the winter to try to sure up an embarrassing rotation and return the team from last place back to back years back into playoff contention. The 30-year-old lefty is battle tested, proven and durable having already shown ace levels of success in Toronto and Tampa within the AL East before settling long-term in Boston for the next seven years.
Price has been nothing short of awful to start the year, posting a 7.06 ERA with more than a hit per inning and a 1.38 WHIP and three long balls surrendered already. Still, with 32 strike outs in 21.1 innings, a natural adjustent to Fenway where he has never pitched well against the Sox and a welcoming primarily from AL East teams (who are not the kindest) it’s understandable if Price isn’t showing Cy Young signs quite yet. Expect regression to the mean once he can settle in, face some pushovers (like Atlanta on Tuesday) and keep the ball in the ballpark more often.
Tampa Bay Rays – Chris Archer: Maybe it’s being unfair to the 27-year-old but Archer’s 5.47 ERA and 1.74 WHIP kind of deserve each other, don’t they? It’s not so much we think his past 2+ years have been a fluke, or that he can keep a pace of surrendering six home runs over 26.1 innings, but Archer has exactly one 200+ inning performance with a sub 1.20 WHIP in his career. Every pitcher on this list will improve, but there’s at least some worry Archer could regress just a little bit.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Zack Greinke: The prized righty who landed a monster five-year pact after a sub 2 ERA 2015 season threw over 450 innings in the majors before he turned 24-years-old. He’s thrown almost an entire year’s worth of innings past 2,000 in his major league career and is 32-years-old, an age when pitchers tend to start exiting their primes. Greinke is in the beginning of a contract paying him over $30 million a year and has a 6.16 ERA in his first 30.2 innings.
We don’t think he will fall off the rails in year one (that’s more a year four thing), but expecting him to post a season more like when he was a 28-year old (with a 3.48 ERA and 1.19 WHIP) may not be out of the question. If you were expecting the Greinke who left Los Angeles last season, you should show major concern. If you were expecting the Greinke in Los Angeles in general, you should have some concern.
St. Louis Cardinals- Adam Wainwright: Coming off a major injury? Check. 34-years-old? Check. Having had two major surgeries already in his career? Check. Wainwright is not like the rest of the pitchers on this list, still in some part of their primes and coming off of tremendous 2015 campaigns. He is a Cardinal, so some will assume he will pitch like a Cy Young candidate with or without both arms, but the fact of the matter is would it surprise anyone if Wainwright had at least a rough first hand leading to a mediocre season? Would it shock any of us if he suffered another injury?
He’s by no means doomed, but Wainwright is certainly the biggest risk out of any listed to struggle for a longer period of time. His 7.25 ERA in 22.1 innings is probably not sustainable, but Wainwright’s status will be one to monitor in the coming weeks.