As the baseball season heads passed the quarter pole, the players that are struggling are running out of excuses. Proclamations of bad luck and small sample size simply don't hold much weight anymore. At this point, teams need to make the tough decision of whether or not to stick with a struggling player to hope he turns things around or to cut their losses and move on to someone else. Well, let's help those teams out by identifying some starting pitchers who probably shouldn't have jobs anymore.
Rick Porcello, Tigers – Stop it, Tigers. Just stop it. Porcello was a popular pick to have a breakout season in 2013, but with a 6.68 ERA, that clearly isn't happening. As usual, at least part of the problem appears to be that Porcello induces a lot of grounders but plays in front of what is arguably the worst infield defense in the game which is why he continues to sport that intriguing 3.71 xFIP. Maybe he really is just a bad pitcher, but maybe he just needs the Tigers to finally set him free. There should be no shortage of teams hoping that a change of scenery and infielders can allow Porcello to finally realize his potential.
Joe Blanton, Angels – Blanton's only real marketable skill is that he is durable. That and making a mockery of fielding independent pitching stats with his strong strikeout-to-walk-ratio. His 6.46 ERA is clearly terrible, but consider that Blanton has somehow managed to allow 75 hits and eight homers in just 46 innings of work, including a streak of 33 consecutive innings in which he allowed at least one hit. Why is he still allowed to exist much less pitch? Because the Angels are terrible and have no depth and no farm system. This isn't going to get better.
Vance Worley/Mike Pelfrey, Twins – Seriously, they have to bench at least one of them, right? Both Worley and Pelfrey have ERAs over 6.50. That's actually an unfair comparison for Pelfrey who is "just" at 6.57 while Worley is soaring above him at 7.15. Pelfrey has struck out just 4.23 batters per nine innings which is crazy low even by Twin standards, but there is a glimmer of hope since he has a 4.30 FIP. For Worley, not so much. In fact, he might be broken as he has seen his strikeout rate go from a career 7.36 K/9 all the way down to 4.85 K/9 this year and has the worst WHIP of any qualified pitcher in baseball. Both Worley and Pelfrey are so, so bad yet somehow they both remain employed as MLB starting pitchers on a team that is just one game below .500.
Jeff Francis, Rockies – Only the Rockies would have such blind faith in Jeff Francis. By Colorado standards, Francis was a solid starer back in 2007 when the Rockies were good. He has been terrible ever since, posting an ERA under 5.00 just once since 2008 and that mark was just 4.82, so he didn't exactly light the world on fire. By all rights, he should be out of baseball but the Rockies are going to Rockie and will cling to Francis with undying loyalty because he is a good guy who pitched well for them over five years ago. Other than Francis, the Rockies are totally for real and nobody should doubt them ever.
Jarrod Parker, Athletics – The sophomore slump has hit Parker like Bryce Harper hit the wall in Dodger Stadium. The only thing keeping him in the rotation right now appears to be that Brett Anderson gets hurt every time he blinks. As good as Parker was last season, he has been as bad this season, coughing up nearly five walks and two homers per nine innings. You don't need Peter Brand and his fancypants Google machine to tell you what a bad combination that is.
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays – Buehrle, who has allowed a league-high 11 homers, is terrible but getting paid a lot to be terrible so there is some incentive for the Jays to get something out of him to justify his contract and the big trade with Miami over the winter that has already blown up in their face with Reyes and Johnson. Third time is the charm, right? Or maybe the Jays haven't pressed the eject button on Buehrle quite simply because they have run out of potential replacements seeing how 40-year old Ramon Ortiz just joined their rotation last week.
Brandon Maurer, Mariners – All you really need to know about Maurer is that he had a start this year against the Astros in which he lasted just two-thirds of an inning while allowing ten hits and six runs. Again, this was against the Astros. Of Houston. Who are the worst. With guys like Tijuan Walker and James Paxton waiting in the wings, it does not compute that the M's allow Maurer to remain in the rotation. Of course, this is a rotation that also features Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang who are deserving of demotions from the rotation as well, so Maurer could survive merely because he doesn't look all that bad by comparison.
Wade Davis, Royals – With a 5.98 ERA, Davis is making everyone who said he was better off as a reliever look pretty smart. However, his rotation spot is probably safe since GM Dayton Moore really needs to see if Davis can't turn it around so that he looks
less stupid smart for acquiring Davis as part of the deal that sent uber-prospect Wil Myers to the Rays. The again maybe Kansas City should probably just stick it out with Davis since the alternative is probably putting Luke Hochevar, the patron saint of crappy starters who inexplicably never lose their job, back into the rotation.
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants – Guess who has the highest ERA in baseball at 8.06? It has been a constant struggle in 2013 for Vogelsong who looks like he may be the next victim of the World Baseball Classic curse. He has enough of a track record for the Giants to try and wait out this rough patch, but things only seem to be getting worse for him. Let's not forget that this is a guy who disappeared from pro baseball for several years after the 2006 season. It might be time for the Giants to make him vanish once again.