5 Starting Pitchers Who Need to Avoid Another Slow Start

The MLB regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. Still, these five starting pitchers would like to perform better in April than they did last year.

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and baseball games are about to start counting. With opening day just days away, it's hard to deny that spring is truly here.

Players are undoubtedly happy about spring training coming to a close and the regular season getting underway, but it's not like getting through 162 games in about 180 days is a walk in the park. We know that a player getting off to a great start doesn't mean they're destined for a career year, nor does a bad start mean the following six months will be an absolute waste.

Detroit Tigers hurler Justin Verlander is a perfect example of this -- while his strikeout rate through 29.2 April innings last year sat at 25.0%, opposing hitters produced a .345 wOBA against him. That helped lead to an unsightly 5.46 ERA, 4.70 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and 1.32 WHIP. By the time the year was done, though, he finished 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA, 3.48 FIP and a league-leading 1.00 WHIP while coming in second in American League Cy Young voting.

Bad starts aren't the worst thing in the world, but nobody wants to deal with them, especially in consecutive years.

The following five players each threw at least 20 innings last April, yet finished the month with an ERA north of 5.00. So, they're likely hoping it won't be déjà vu all over again in 2017.