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Some starters just can't get any help

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Mets ace Johan Santana could have used a couple of performances like his last two earlier in the season.

The New York lefty has thrown two straight complete game shutouts, including the first no-hitter in Mets history Friday against St. Louis, to pick up wins No. 2 and 3 on the year.

Perhaps more amazingly, the Mets' offense actually supported Santana, outscoring opponents 17-0 in the two games.

Prior to these last two outings, Santana had accumulated two losses and six no decisions despite having an ERA of 3.24 because he was receiving just 3.1 runs per start behind him.

While he was the pitcher of record, that number was even worse, dropping to 1.6 runs per start as the Mets scored just 15 runs while he was still in the game over his first nine turns.

After Santana's last two wins, he has likely become the envy of some of the other tough-luck pitchers in baseball this season.

These players will likely have to duplicate Santana's last two outings just to record a tally or two in the win column, as getting 17 runs over two starts will be highly unlikely.

Here are some of the pitchers who likely wouldn't mind having the benefit of facing their own lineup from time to time.

Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres - Volquez is finding that while pitching in Petco Park covers up mistakes much better than the Great American Ballpark, having the Padres offense behind him offsets most of those benefits. In his first season with San Diego, Volquez is the worst supported pitcher in the league, getting 1.8 runs per start and 1.1 runs per 27 outs while he's the pitcher of record. That explains Volquez' paltry 2-5 record despite a 3.46 ERA and a .228 BAA.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies - We're wondering if Lee has approached the locker of teammate and fellow lefty Cole Hamels on more than one occasion this season to beg him to swap rotation spots. Lee has a big fat donut in his win column this season due to the Phillies scoring just 3.4 runs per start for him. When he's the pitcher of record, Philadelphia averages just 1.9 runs per 27 outs, second worst in baseball behind Volquez. Lee even threw 10 shutout innings against the Giants on April 18 only to come away with a no decision. Meanwhile, Hamels has received 5.8 runs per game to propel him to a major league leading eight wins. On the season, Lee is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in eight starts.

Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs - Like Lee, Dempster has not picked up a win this season despite pitching exceptionally well, especially in April. The Cubs right-hander had a 1.02 ERA through his first five starts but had zero wins to show for it thanks to the Cubs scoring 1.6 runs per game for him. His performance has slipped recently, as his ERA is 5.70 over his last four starts, which hasn't helped in his quest to get a W.

Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, Los Angeles Angels - Haren made like Johan Santana and took matters into his own hands to get his second and third wins of the year after losing four straight starts. In his last two outings, Haren has gone 2-0 with an ERA of 0.56 and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings, including a 14- strikeout complete game shutout against Seattle on May 24. The Angels are averaging just 2.6 runs per start in Haren's 11 turns. As a result, he has a 3-5 record despite a 3.52 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. To teammate Ervin Santana, however, it has to look like Haren has the '27 Yankees behind him. Santana hasn't pitched well this season, as his 4.78 ERA indicates, but the Angels have also failed to provide him with any help whatsoever. Santana became the first starting pitcher in MLB history to have his team get shut out behind him in five straight starts. Santana has received just 2.3 runs per start from the Angels this year, leading to a 2-6 record.

Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees - There's been something about having Kuroda on the hill these last two seasons that just causes his teammates' bats to turn to dust. Kuroda is receiving 2.9 runs per start from the Yankees, ninth worst in baseball, even though New York is eighth in baseball in runs scored. The Japanese righty is 4-6 in 10 starts despite a 3.96 ERA. Curiously, Kuroda has picked up a decision in 39 of 42 starts over the past two years, going 17-22 despite a 3.28 ERA, which lends credence to the argument that Kuroda does just enough to lose in most starts.

Anibal Sanchez, Miami Marlins - Sanchez has been one of the more consistent starters in fantasy baseball this season. In fact, he's thrown exactly seven innings while allowing three runs or less in seven out of his last eight starts. On the year, he's won just three games despite a 2.56 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.04 K/9 and nine quality starts in 10 turns. The Marlins have averaged just 2.1 runs per 27 outs while Sanchez is the pitcher of record and 3.3 runs per start overall.

Edwin Jackson and Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals - After bouncing around to six teams in nine years, Jackson has found a home in Washington. The right-hander is putting up the best peripheral statistics of his career, including a 3.17 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a .219 batting average against. However, Jackson has just one win to show for his troubles, thanks to the Nationals scoring three runs per start for him. His teammate Zimmermann has thrown even better, posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.09 WHIP but going just 3-5 due to Washington averaging 2.1 runs per 27 outs while he's in the game.

The entire Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation - The Pirates have scored the fewest runs in all of baseball this season, so it's to be expected that their starters aren't well supported. A.J. Burnett, Charlie Morton, James McDonald and Kevin Correia all rank in the top-20 among the pitchers with the worst run support per start in the MLB this season. Erik Bedard, meanwhile, has received 3.7 runs per start but just 2.6 runs per 27 outs while he's in the game. As a result, the Pittsburgh quintet is just 15-20 combined in 47 starts despite having a collective 3.49 ERA.

As is the case with Cy Young Award voting, wins aren't everything in fantasy baseball. There are plenty of other categories these hurlers can contribute in besides victories, so don't cast them aside just because they aren't among the league leaders in that statistic.

However, just know that in order to compete in the wins category, you'll have to balance out your staff with big winners like Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Derek Lowe, R.A. Dickey or Chris Capuano, pitchers who have excelled this season but who likely can be had for less than the cost of an ace like Hamels.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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