2010 In Review: Starting Pitchers

Jeremy Guthrie – 11-14, 3.83 ERA, 209.1 IP, 119 K, 50 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 5.12 K/9

It was a tale of two halves for Guthrie this year. Before the all-star break he looked like the same disappointing pitcher from 2009, posting a 3-10 record with a 4.77 ERA, 57 strikeouts, and 34 walks over 111.1 innings. Something must’ve clicked with the mid-season break because he was pretty dominant in the second half going 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA, 62 strikeouts, and 16 walks over 98 innings. He was getting much better velocity and movement in the second half and I’m really curious what he changed, if anything. He ended up throwing the most innings in his career, making it two years in a row that thats happened. Three out of the last four years Guthrie has had an ERA between 3.63 and 3.83 with 2009 being the exception at 5.04. At his worst hes an innings eater, at his best hes a very solid number three starter on a good team.

2011 Prognosis: Guthrie should have alot of trade value going into the offseason and I think it depends on whether the Orioles believe he can sustain his success from the second half whether they trade him or not. It might be smart to move him now if we can get a team to overpay for him. If we don’t get an offer that we like, then we’re “stuck” with an inning eating veteran who can be dominant at times. Hes still under the Orioles control for two more seasons so there will be more chances to trade him if the need arises. If he stays with the team I would expect him to post an ERA between 4.00 and 4.50 with 200+ more innings, which has alot of value.

Kevin Millwood – 4-16, 5.10 ERA, 190.2 IP, 132 K, 65 BB, 1.51 WHIP, 6.23 K/9

Millwood was acquired in the offseason from the Texas Rangers with the idea that he could be a veteran innings eater that could help out the young arms. He started off the season pitching very well but was unlucky when it came to getting decisions. He was 0-5 despite an ERA sitting at 3.89 after the first two months. He seemed to mentally give in to all the losing and got bombed over June and July (8.82 and 10.66 ERAs respectively) before missing some time with an injury. He came back right around the same time that Showalter came in, which looks like it had a positive effect for Millwood. He finished the year strong with a 3.54 ERA in August and 3.82 in September. Overall he didn’t give the Orioles what they were looking for, which was consistency. By all accounts he was good in the clubhouse but unfortunately that doesn’t show up in the standings.

2011 Prognosis: Millwood will be a free agent and I would be shocked if he came back to Baltimore. I think both him and the ballclub would prefer to go in other directions. I think he can still be an effective starter in the National League and thats where I expect him to wind up. Maybe right down the street in Washington. Three out of the last four years hes had an ERA around 5.00, which is what I would expect from him again next year.

Brian Matusz – 10-12, 4.30 ERA, 175.2 IP, 143 K, 63 BB, 1.34 WHIP, 7.33 K/9

It was an interesting rookie season for Matusz, a bit of a roller coaster ride. He had a bit of bad luck in the first half with weakly hit balls finding holes or landing just out of a defenders reach. In May and July he looked completely lost and it showed with ERAs of 7.50 and 8.10 but those months were sandwiching June when he had a 3.69 ERA. Just like everyone else, when Showalter took over he improved dramatically. He went 6-1 over the last two months with a 2.25 ERA. Although it wasn’t the way I expected him to get there, Matusz pretty much had the numbers I expected out of him coming into the season. The good news is that he got better as the season went on and finished strong, giving the Orioles hope that he can be the staff ace.

2011 Prognosis: I’m fully expecting Matusz to take off next year and solidify himself as a top of the rotation starter. He might not reach that point but he should give us 200 innings with an ERA between 3.25 and 3.75. Hes the real deal and a big reason why I think Orioles fans can finally get excited for the future. Andy MacPhails plan has always been to grow the arms and it appears that it is finally coming to fruition.

Brad Bergesen – 8-12, 4.98 ERA, 170 IP, 81 K, 51 BB, 1.44 WHIP, 4.29 K/9

Bergesen’s year started off horribly when he injured his throwing shoulder while shooting a commercial and it lingered into spring training. He managed to avoid the disabled list but probably wishes he didn’t after getting torched in his first three starts of the season and getting sent down to AAA Norfolk. He pitched one game down there, got called back up, and bounced back with a respectable May (3-1, 4.26 ERA). Things got bad again in June when he had two horrible starts, was moved to the bullpen, and eventually sent back down to Norfolk. After two more starts down there he came back again and proceeded to go 0-5 with a 6.32 ERA in July. Things were looking very bad for Bergesen and people were wondering if 2009 was a fluke. But once Showalter took over as manager something changed. He started pitching like he did in his rookie season, going 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA over his last 10 starts in August and September.

2011 Prognosis: Next season will be very interesting for Bergesen. Does he continue pitching like he did in 2009 and the last two months of 2010? I don’t know if he’ll be that good but I see no reason why he can’t give you an ERA between 3.75 and 4.25. Theres plenty of reason to believe that his struggles for most of last year are due to the shin and shoulder injuries that he suffered. His velocity really picked up over the last two months and he actually started to strike out batters at a reasonable rate. He should be a solid third or fourth starter in 2011.

Jake Arrieta – 6-6, 4.66 ERA, 100.1 IP, 52 K, 48 BB, 1.53 WHIP, 4.66 K/9

Arrieta started out the year at AAA Norfolk where he absolutely dominated the competition through June 5th. He went 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA over 73 innings with 64 strikeouts and 34 walks. He was finally called up on June 10th against the New York Yankees where he won his MLB debut and struck out six batters. His first two starts went well but then he hit a rough patch as the league adjusted to him. He improved his ERA each month as the season went on (6.20, 5.01, 4.45, 2.60) before getting shut down in September with a bone spur in his elbow. At first he was going to have surgery to remove it but instead hes just going to rest it over the offseason. Arrieta has a bulldog mentality and hes not afraid to go right after hitters. Hes got good stuff, a mid 90’s fastball and decent secondaries, but he needs to work on his command and consistency in his mechanics.

2011 Prognosis: In 2009 Arrieta dominated AA before getting called up to AAA and struggling a bit. He came back this year and dominated AAA before getting called up to the majors and struggling a bit. Could next year see him dominate at the big league level? I doubt it but Arrieta is a guy that makes adjustments and works hard over the offseason so he should continue to improve. Hes hard to predict but I could see anywhere from a mid three ERA to a high four. Hopefully the bone spur doesn’t become an issue at some point. I wish he would’ve got that taken care of, for peace of mind that it won’t flare up at least.

Chris Tillman – 2-5, 5.87 ERA, 53.2 IP, 31 K, 31 BB, 1.53 WHIP, 5.20 K/9

Tillman has a long way to go still. He jumped up top prospect lists because he flew through the O’s minor league system dominating at every stop, striking out batters with a low 90’s fastball and knee buckling curve. The only problem is that it hasn’t translated well to the major leagues to this point. It looks like major league hitters can read the ball out of his hand and since he rarely throws his curve ball in the strike zone they just take it for a ball. He had a couple moments of brilliance, one start in Texas where he shut out the Rangers on two hits over 7.1 innings and in his last start of the season he only gave up one run over 7 innings with 7 strikeouts. In AAA Norfolk he pitched to a 11-7 record with a 3.34 ERA, 94 strikeouts, and 30 walks over 121.1 innings. The Orioles had him working on a two seam fastball to try and reduce his extreme fly ball tendencies but thats going to take time to implement.

2011 Prognosis: Tillman is still only 22 years old so theres plenty of time for him to reach his potential. Hes still maturing and working on his command along with that two seamer. Hes shown what hes capable of but fans are ready to give up on him. I’ll admit if we’re going to trade one of the young starting pitchers for a big bat I’d prefer to deal Tillman since hes the farthest out from reaching his ceiling but I wouldn’t just give him away. Him and Zach Britton will probably battle it out for the 5th starters spot in spring training if things remain the same. If it was up to me I’d have him starting out at AAA Norfolk again and make him earn another shot.

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