2010 In Review: LH Relief Pitchers

Mark Hendrickson – 1-6, 5.26 ERA, 75.1 IP, 55 K, 20 BB, 1.55 WHIP, 6.57 K/9

The only thing Hendrickson brought to the team in 2010 was that he was able to stay healthy and log a decent amount of innings. The problem was that he wasn’t very effective in those innings and was only used in mop up duty or when a game was out of hand one way or the other. He started one game but was mostly used in two inning stints. Even when the Orioles were in need of a left handed specialist after trading Will Ohman they didn’t use him in that role. Its almost like they were scared to use him and hid him in the bullpen. I didn’t have a problem with bringing him back for another year but he just wasn’t the same pitcher that he was in 2009. At least there was a veteran in the bullpen to help with team chemistry.

2011 Prognosis: The Orioles will buy out the team option on Hendrickson’s contract for $200,000 and let him become a free agent. The only way I could see him return was if he accepted a minor league contract and battled for a bullpen spot in spring training, which isn’t likely. He’ll latch on to some teams bullpen on a one year deal around $1 million. The Orioles can use the younger Troy Patton in his role next year if they want a similar pitcher, but one with more upside.

Will Ohman – 0-0, 3.30 ERA, 30 IP, 28 K, 18 BB, 1.60 WHIP, 8.40 K/9

Ohman was signed to a minor league contract heading into spring training and it turned out to be a great move. He wasn’t anything particularly special but he did a fine job as the left handed specialist for the league minimum. He also allowed the Orioles to acquire RHP Rick VandenHurk when he was traded to the Marlins. He continued to pitch for Florida with about the same results, striking out 14 batters and walking 5 over 12 innings for a 3.00 ERA as the left handed specialist. It was a solid bounce back year for Ohman coming off of a 5.84 ERA and an arm injury in 2009.

2011 Prognosis: Ohman will be a free agent again but this time he should be able to get a guaranteed contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up back on the Orioles but I personally don’t think its smart to waste a roster spot on somebody that only faces a batter or two at a time. A contending team in need of left handed relief help would be a good fit, maybe even the Yankees.

Mike Gonzalez – 1-3, 4.01 ERA, 1 SV, 24.2 IP, 31 K, 14 BB, 1.30 WHIP, 11.31 K/9

Gonzalez was the Orioles biggest free agent signing last offseason and if it wasn’t for the historically bad Garrett Atkins he might’ve been the biggest bust. Signed to a two year, 12 million dollar contract with the O’s losing their second round pick in the 2010 draft he came into spring training as damaged goods. Something clearly wasn’t right since he couldn’t break 90 mph on the radar gun and after blowing two of three save chances at the start of the season he was put on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. He missed the next three and a half months and when he came back looked like a different pitcher. He lost the closers role but really thrived in the left handed set up role down the stretch, pitching to a 2.78 ERA from July 22nd to the end of the season. Hes control is still the biggest issue with him but he strikes out alot of batters with his deceptive delivery.

2011 Prognosis: Gonzalez can still make his contract worth the Orioles while if he can continue to pitch the way he did after returning from the DL next year. If Koji Uehara doesn’t return I would say hes the favorite to be the closer. If Koji does come back he can continue in his set up role unless/until Uehara gets hurt. The O’s could decide to shop Gonzalez around in the offseason but I think his value would be better in a mid-season trade before the deadline after he has more time to rebuild his reputation.

Alberto Castillo – 1-0, 10.12 ERA, 10.2 IP, 11 K, 6 BB, 2.06 WHIP, 9.28 K/9

Castillo is a guy that seems to get a chance with the Orioles at some point every season but never does anything with the opportunity. He got called up in May with our bullpen struggling through injuries to Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara, and Jim Johnson but was back in AAA Norfolk by the beginning of June. He wasn’t used much when he was up but when he was he was completely ineffective. Over 39.2 innings with Norfolk he was 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks. Hes a great example of a AAAA player, good enough to be useful in AAA but not good enough to make it in the majors.

2011 Prognosis: I would assume Castillo will be back with the Tide in AAA Norfolk next year unless hes taken off of the 40 man roster. I think the minor league pitching is deep enough that we won’t see him again in an Oriole uniform. Hes a solid AAA reliever but I don’t ever see him making the next step.

Pedro Viola – 0-0, 13.53 ERA, 1.1 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, 1.50 WHIP, 20.30 K/9

Viola was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds at the very beginning of the season and started out at AAA Norfolk in the bullpen. He struggled mightily to start the year and was demoted to AA Bowie in June after posting a 17.65 ERA over 8.2 innings with 8 strikeouts and 10 walks. He started out at AA in the bullpen but was moved to the rotation for 10 starts where he seemed to find his form before going back to the bullpen. He had a 3.59 ERA for the Baysox over 62.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and 19 walks. The Orioles gave him a September callup where he didn’t show much but to be fair he didn’t really have much of a chance to show anything. He seems like a mop up guy at best.

2011 Prognosis: My guess is the Orioles only called Viola up in September so they had more information on him for when they have to decide to keep him on the 40 man roster or not. I don’t think they will but you never know with left handed pitchers. Good ones are a rare commodity that teams try hard to find and will hold out hope that they will reach their potential. I see him as no more than a AAA bullpen arm if hes with the Orioles or any team for that matter.

Troy Patton – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.2 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 2.99 WHIP, 13.43 K/9\

Patton was a part of the Miguel Tejada trade from two years ago when he came over with Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, and Mike Constanzo. He was once a top prospect for the Astros but labrum surgery really cut into his stock. He worked his way back into action in 2009 where he did great at AA Bowie before struggling in AAA Norfolk in the second half of the season. Back in Norfolk this year he went 8-11 with a 4.43 ERA over 136 innings with 89 strikeouts and 43 walks. Not a great season but he had a 3.46 ERA over his last 10 starts. He only got into one game for the Orioles in September despite being called up at three separate points in the season.

2011 Prognosis: Labrum injuries are hard to come back from and I think Patton has done a good job of getting to where hes at. No doubt he doesn’t have the stuff he had before the surgery but I think he can still be an effective pitcher. I think he would do well with a move to the bullpen where he could take on a Mark Hendrickson type role. He’ll compete for a spot on the Orioles pitching staff in spring training.

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