Where's Jason Berken been?
Well if they Orioles had tied the game last night, Jason Berken would have been in the game. Manager Dave Trembely had Berken warming up in the ninth inning in case that scenario became a reality, but the Orioles fell just short of a full comeback.
Berken who last pitched Monday in Seattle, is one of the most rested arms in the Orioles beleaguered bullpen. Prior to Monday, his last outing was April 14. But his minimal usage has been more of a result of the team’s good starting pitching, rather than Berken’s performance.
In his first season in the long relief role, Berken has allowed just two earned runs in four games, sporting a 1.50 ERA.
“I think coming to the field every day thinking I have a chance to pitch is a good thing for me,” Berken said. “Overall, I feel like it’s been good [in the bullpen].
“One thing I’ve noticed, and Mark [Hendrickson] has talked to me about it, when I’m getting ready as a starter I tend to analyze my pitches a little more because I have more time to think about it. When I’m in the ‘pen, It’s kind of you are just trying to get loose you don’t really analyze your pitches or your location more or less, you are just trying to get loose and get in there.”
Berken’s longest outing has been a five-inning stint following Brad Bergesen’s start on April 14 against Tampa Bay. He estimated he’s stretched out about to about 75 pitches, and if Bergesen fails to get back on track, Berken is a candidate to make a spot start May 1.
Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Berken and Hendrickson are both options to get Saturday’s start, although the team would prefer to have Bergesen get on track and leave the pair of long men in the ‘pen. Hendrickson and Berken have been the Orioles most consistent relievers and Trembley is hesitant to tinker with that.
“My choice has always been if you have someone who is doing well in an area, leave him alone, leave him there, don’t put him in another spot where you are unsure what he’ll do,” Trembley said. But if the need arises and [Berken] would have to do it I am sure he would give you what he has, he’s that kind of guy. I would prefer to leave him where he is.”
A converted starter who pitched several times in relief this spring, Berekn made the Opening Day roster as the team’s second long man, and has said all along that he’s happy to fill any role.
“It’s clichÃ©d but whatever they want me to do ill do,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the pen so far and if that’s where they need me, that’s fine with me.”