Submitted by Erin Rynning
Nick Blackburn – Blackburn looked as if he turned his season around with a complete game effort last time out against Detroit, but I feel we'll have ample opportunity to bet against him in the coming weeks. Despite a fair amount of success throughout his career, Blackburn doesn’t have a lot of margin for error. His first two full seasons were almost identical as he started exactly 33 times, and delivered 4.05 and 4.03 ERA's respectively. But it was his peripheral numbers that just didn’t match. In both seasons Blackburn failed to strikeout a batter every two innings. That leaves little margin for error when you don’t have your great stuff working. This looked entirely true in his first four starts of 2010 with three of those against weaker hitting Kansas City and Chicago. There were reports of a potential arm problem, which certainly made sense. But it was very surprising when Blackburn went the distance against Detroit – a team he has pitched well against throughout his career. The clocking is ticking and I am looking to fade Blackburn the rest of May.
Brian Matusz – It’s not much fun pitching in the American League East. Matusz is great proof of that so far in 2010, with five of his six starts coming against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. However, he’s delivered the goods but just hasn’t gotten enough run support to come away a winner. Overall, the lefty has shown a fine 3.93 ERA and 31:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At 23-years old, Matusz is one of the best young pitching prospects in baseball. He owns four plus pitches to go with good presence on the mound. He’s done a great job adjusting to MLB hitters as many scouts this spring felt he was the best young arm they saw. Now, as the opposition softens, Matusz will start to win games at a reasonable price. Ironically, Matusz is tentatively scheduled to pitch against Minnesota and Nick Blackburn this Sunday.
Mat Latos – Latos is simply another young gun ready to fire. He’s still on 21 years old and features a mid-90’s fastball and plus slider and curve. There is no denying he's had his ups and downs, especially away from pitcher friendly Petco Park, but as he matures, it will provide us with decent sized betting value. Overall, his 5.47 ERA and 1-3 record aren’t much but I think he’s better than the raw numbers show. Latos started the season with an ultra-tough matchup in Colorado, and was then too amped up in his first home start against the Atlanta Braves. He then pitched brilliantly against the Giants at home but was roughed up on the road at Florida. Last time out, he posted a quality outing in a 2-1 loss to Milwaukee – the exact type of performance we like to see from a promising youngster off a bad outing. With the organization moving in the right direction, I’ll call for Latos to win his fair share of games in 2010.