Friday, July 31, 2009

Brad Bergesen

After turning in yet another quality start yesterday, Brad Bergesen hit the DL today thanks to a line drive off the bat of Billy Butler that left a nasty bruise and created quite the scare. Fortunately, it appears the injury will end up being minor. Still, the Orioles are right to be cautious; injuries to a pitcher's legs can cause slight alterations to mechanics and lead to cascading injuries as players adjust to compensate. It's also unfortunate that the Orioles will lose their most effective starter and a Rookie of the Year candidate for at least two weeks.

However, so long as the injury truly is minor, this could actually be a blessing in disguise. Bergesen has been worked fairly hard this year, having already thrown 134.1 innings, just 31 innings short of last season's total. With 61 games to go, Bergesen would likely make 10 to 12 more starts, easily pushing him past last year's total and perhaps close to 200 IP. That would make the 23-year old Bergesen a candidate for the "Verducci Effect", which basically states that young pitchers (< 25 years of age) should not exceed the previous season's inning total by more than 30 IP. This injury will likely keep him within that threshold, and perhaps keep him healthier for next year.

It's also worth noting that last year Chris Tillman threw 135.2 innings for Bowie. This season, he's notched 100.2 between Norfolk and Baltimore. If he gets 10 more starts, he'll likely finish in the 160 IP ranged, meaning that the Orioles will have successfully managed the 21-year old's workload as well. To round out the pitching prospects: Jake Arrieta threw 113.0 last year, and 110.2 so far this season. One more month in Norfolk would put him at about the allowable increase, but also preclude a September call-up. Brian Matusz has thrown 112.0 innings in 2009, and did not pitch professionally in 2008. He threw 105.0 collegiate innings in 2008, and 123.0 in 2007. As much as we'd probably like to see them, I doubt either debuts for the Orioles in 2009. Instead, we're probably in for a mix of Mark Hendrickson, Brian Bass, David Pauley and Chris Waters spot starts.

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