Here is a list of teams currently underachieving and some players who could quickly help them get back on track … if they return to form.
New York Yankees — Anybody on the starting pitching staff
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I was trying pick out one culprit for the Yankees struggles pitching-wise, but all of them are underperforming to this point. CC Sabathia has a 3.78 ERA, which would be great for most starters, but not the guy you signed to be your ace. Hiroki Kuroda has been inconsistent. He’s given the Yankees four quality starts, but has been brutal in almost every other outing. Phil Hughes has a 4.94 ERA and Ivan Nova hasn’t been much better at 5.69. After their great offseason moves to sure up their rotation, this collection of hurlers currently ranks 26th in the league in ERA. They get all the run support they need from the powerful offense, these guys just need to be decent for the Yankees to win.
Philadelphia Phillies — Hunter Pence
I know it’s hard to fault a guy who leads his team in home runs, but the Phillies need to forget about Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and realize that Pence is the main man. Despite his increased power numbers, he’s batting .265, which would be a career low for him, and only .228 with runners in scoring position. Philadelphia has the sixth-best batting average in the league but is 18th in runs scored. That means guys are getting on and they’re just not being brought home. And like I said, you can’t be mad at a guy who is 12th in the league in RBIs with 28, but Pence needs to realize this is his team now, and if they want to compete for the division, he has to start getting clutch hits.
Detroit Tigers — Delmon Young
I think this one is fairly obvious. The first four hitters are getting the job done, although with Austin Jackson out, their troubles could get worse. Right now, there is no protection behind Prince Fielder. Young is batting .248 with a .305 OBP and has only managed two home runs and 14 RBIs in 129 at-bats. That is inexcusable. The Tigers have to have more production than that, and those power numbers are just ridiculous. The top three pitchers have been great with Doug Fister back, but this offense was supposed to break records, and it just hasn’t happened. Young did get off to a slow start last year due to injuries and then tore it up late in the year after being traded. Hopefully for the Tigers he’ll figure it out a little sooner this year.
San Francisco Giants — Tim Lincecum
Could it be that Lincecum is the fifth man in the Giants rotation right now? If you’re going by this year’s stats he more than qualifies as the fifth starter. We’ve all been waiting on the Cy Young winner to turn it around, but he just hasn’t figured it out yet. He has a 6.04 ERA on the year and has only produced one quality start all season. The offense has been fine, as they’re 11th in the league in average, and the top four starters have been brilliant. If The Freak can find his form, the Giants might have a shot at catching the Dodgers or at least competing for a wild card spot.
Boston Red Sox — Clay Buchholz
Another fairly obvious choice. Despite all the Red Sox struggles, if they could just get this one guy going, they’d be alright. Their starters have combined for a 5.14 ERA, but Buchholz has been the main reason for that with a 7.84 ERA of his own. I haven’t watched him enough to know exactly what’s wrong with him, but somebody needs to figure out why the guy who posted a 2.33 ERA in 2010 can’t get guys out. The offense is there, and like the Yankees, they just need their pitching staff to be decent, which they have been for the most part. Buchholz needs to get it together quick and start helping this team win some 5-4 ball games.