Results tagged ‘ Jake Arrieta ’

What do you do?

I’m off this series in Toronto with a prior engagement, but I’ve gotten a bunch of emails and questions on Twitter –enough to make me check out the remnants of last night’s game via the box score.

The question is, what do you do with Brad Bergesen? Should you have left him in longer? Do you call up Zach Britton in his place? Do you let Britton continue to develop?

Like I said, I’m not with the team and I don’t play couch-GM nearly as good as my friend/colleague MASN’s Roch Kubatko. I’ll be back with the O’s for Kansas City on Thursday, and by then I’m sure we will know Bergy’s fate.

The thing is, I’m not sure what the right move is here. It’s hard to punish a guy who is far from alone in his struggles. Do you send all the young guys back to Norfolk? Or do you let them develop in what is essentially a lost season ? Do you weigh each particular case in terms of who can maybe work through their issues up here and who can’t?

I wasn’t covering the Orioles last year and only vaguely remember Brad Bergesen when I covered an Os-Yanks series. I’ve heard he was great, a pleasant surprise for Baltimore. I’ve seen flashes of it (like that game at Fenway Park), but for the most part Bergy’s been ineffective. Is it mental or mechanical? Is the League catching up to him?

I’m just as perplexed/astounded as most of you are. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, interim manager Juan Samuel and pitching coach Rick Kranitz. But I certainly wouldn’t want any of their jobs right about now.

I will say this: I’ve done a lot of talking, mostly off the record in the visitors’ clubhouse and on the road. The general consensus about the Os young arms is they’re talented but the expectations placed on them this spring were incredibly unrealistic.
“Everything had to go right for those guys to have a chance,” said one rival GM. “And everything has gone wrong.”

None of these guys are even 25 yet. And most of them have about a year of service time -Bergy’s a little more, Jake Arrieta’s a little less, etc.  Will they all be as good as hyped? Probably not. But they aren’t this bad, either.

If they were scattered about other organizations maybe they’d still be in the Minor leagues or be a fifth starter with far less expectation. Instead, they are all up here together, pitching in the AL East with the general consensus being that they are the “Calvary” that will restore the O’s to prominence.

This spring, I spoke with an opposing pitching coach who watched Chris Tillman throw a Grapefruit League game and marvel at the possibilities. “They’re talented,” he said of the O’s young arms. “But they’re still a couple years away.”

The problem with relying on growing the young arms is the O’s don’t have any veterans or journeyman pitchers in the organization, or at Norfolk, who can come up and serve as filler. 

Look at the Tides rotation, or most of their roster in general. It’s a youth movement. I acknowledge that they’re trying to restock their farm system and really build a nice young core, but I think the element of adding a sprinkling of veterans, especially at Norfolk, was incredibly overlooked. Even the guys who are older, so to speak, don’t have years of League experience.

I know several AL teams overpay their Minor League veterans when they’re free agents to get them to stay in the system. The benefits are two-fold : first, you get a solid backup option if your prospects aren’t ready and you need a guy to come up for a quick stint. Two, you get veterans who are generally in good spirits about the organization and willing to help foster a positive, learning atmosphere. You get enough of these guys –particularly those who have been in the bigs — and your Triple-A team also starts to win a lot more games than it loses. In the Triple-A International League the top three teams are the Yankees and Rays affiliates, with Cleveland’s Columbus squad leading the West division. I’m not saying winning in the Minor Leagues is everything, but it’s certainly something.
The O’s lack of these types of veterans has also handcuffed them to an extent. It’s hard to trade away Jeremy Guthrie when you can’t think of a guy to take that roster spot. I know Kevin Millwood has come under fire, but he’s usually good for at least six innings.

People are clamoring for Britton to come up, but is he ready? He’s only made a handful of starts since being promoted from Double-A. He’s a guy you don’t want to have to shuttle back-and-forth, like they’ve done (erroneously in my opinion) with guys like Tillman and Bergesen.

This was supposed to be the year they all stood on their feet, so to speak. But having no backup option in case they didn’t, no Plan B, was risky. And now, you’re seeing just how dangerous it is.

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It starts with the starters

Orioles rookie Jake Arrieta became the latest promising young arm to labor through an ineffective and entirely too short start on Sunday, a one-time anomaly that has become a cause for increasing concern.

During the 65-minute rain delay, I got a little bored and was combing through stats and compiling numbers and sharing them with my fellow reporters. Here are a few stats that stand out.

*Excluding Jeremy Guthrie -who has posted two quality starts on the homestand – the Orioles starters have worked just 36 1/3 innings over eight games, allowing 41 earned runs on 54  hits for a 10.10 ERA.

*The starting staff has pitched  a combined 50 innings on the homestand, just six more than the bullpen, and only the 4-10 Guthrie has an ERA under 5 at this point of the season.

*This is why I have a hard time pinning the blame of guys like Jason Berken, Mark Hendrickson and Matt Albers – they are all in the top 8 in the American League as far as innings pitched out of the bullpen. When speaking to pitching coach Rick Kranitz the other day, I asked him if it was a concern that these guys were being used so much, in particular Berken and David Hernandez. Kranitz said they would try to start limiting those guys, but honestly when your starters are averaging 5 innings a game, it’s impossible to do that.

*Here are the ERAs for each starter in the second half. The O’s just wrapped a 2-8 homestand so each starter has had two outings, except for Kevin Millwood who came off the DL to replace Chris Tillman.

Jeremy Guthrie (1-0):
13 2/3 IP, 13 H, 3 ER, 1.98 ERA
Brian Matusz (0-2): 6 2/3 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 12.15 ERA
Brad Bergesen (0-2): 11 1/3 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 7.15 ERA
Jake Arrieta (0-1): 9 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 ER, 9.64
Kevin Millwood (0-1) (one start): 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 5.77

*Including Tillman’s loss on Monday, the starters are 1-7 to start the second-half and continue to rank last in the Majors in total staff wins with 17. Yes, they should have more wins but they have posted a AL-low 42 quality starts in 98 games, so they aren’t helping their cause quite as often as other teams.

*And to continue to “beat a dead horse” as Samuel put it when asked about the team’s woeful productive hitting here’s a final stat for you. The Orioles two hits with runners in scoring position in the ninth inning on Sunday matched their total for the entire four-game set against the Twins

*In their two wins this homestand, they went 6-for-19 (.316) with RISP. In their 8 losses they were 8-for-69 (.116).

If the Os are going to avoid a sweep…

I put my money on Jake Arrieta in tonight’s game as the best shot for the Orioles to steal one this series. With all due respect to Wednesday’s starter Jeremy Guthrie the O’s offense faces Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.

Considering Baltimore has a tendency to make opposing pitchers look like Cy Young Award-winners, facing Lincecum for the first time could be a fatal mix. In his last outing against Oakland, Lincecum rebounded from his recent
slide by allowing two runs on seven hits in eight innings. He also
struck out seven and walked just one batter.

Back to tonight, where Arrieta will actually hold the upper hand in terms of Major League starts. The Giants will send 27-year-old journeyman Joe Martinez to the hill for his first outing of the season while Arrieta is coming off a sparkling debut in which he held the defending World Series Champion Yankees in check.

Martinez went 3-2 with a 7.50 ERA in nine games for the Giants last season. You might remember the incident last April, when Brewers’ outfielder Mike Cameron drilled a line drive off his head. Martinez suffered a concussion and three hairline fractures to his skull, but he came back five months later. He’s tasked with tonight’s spot start.

Random fact alert: With Interleague Play and limited experience, Arrieta and Martinez will be largely unknowns to tonight’s hitters. The only Oriole who has an at-bat off Martinez is Miguel Tejada, who is 0-for-2.

Castillo DFA'ed

The Orioles designated Alberto Castillo for assignment to make room on the 40-man for tonight’s starter, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta will wear No. 57.

Castillo, 34, went 1-0 with a 10.13 ERA (10.2IP, 12ER) in 14 games for the Orioles this season.

Arrieta's Arrival

Jake Arrieta’s here in Baltimore and, as I wrote earlier, will make his Major League debut tomorrow.

I spoke with him briefly tonight, and you get the sense that he almost relishes starting against the Yankees. Arrieta’s confidence is something the organization likes, and I think it’s almost necessary for survival as a young pitcher in the AL East.

Brian Matusz
carries the same sort of inner confidence. He’s a guy that says he trusts his stuff and you actually believe him. If the Orioles are going to start to turn the corner tomorrow, next week, or next year, they are going to need young guys like this- pitchers who would rather face the Red Sox and the Yankees than the Indians or the Royals.

Arrieta was well aware of who his opponent would be when he got the news in Norfolk Tuesday night.

“It’s a lot bigger names in the box score, but it’s the same game,” he said.  “Whether it’s A-Rod or some hitter from [Yankees Triple-A] Scranton, I have to approach [Thursday] like any other start.”

He said he wasn’t nervous yet, because everything had been such a whirlwind. But when he steps out on the mound at Camden Yards to face Derek Jeter, Arrieta acknowledged he’d have some butterflies. It’s only normal. Heck, even superhuman Stephen Strasburg admitted he was nervous for his debut.

Chris Tillman had a solid outing tonight. Arrieta has a chance to build on that and give the Orioles their first win against the Yankees since April 27. They’ve lost 10 in a row to New York since then.

Although that’s hardly the most sobering stat of the day, which is this: The Orioles had a lead for five innings on Wednesday night, marking the longest stretch they’ve had a lead since May 25 against Oakland.

It’s so unbelievable my old New York media buds had to ask me to confirm. Here’s hoping the O’s take care of that stat tomorrow.

It's Official: Jake tomorrow

The Orioles have confirmed that Jake Arrieta will start Thursday’s game against the Yankees. Jeremy Guthrie will slide back to Friday which leaves Brad Bergesen as the odd man out, at least for right now. Bergesen will remain in the bullpen and interim manager Juan Samuel said what they do with him will largely depend on what the team’s needs are the next few days.

Ditto goes for the roster move. The Orioles will need to make a move to get Arrieta on the 40-man roster prior to tomorrow night’s game. And yes, Guthrie is healthy. But the Os felt it was better to keep Arrieta on his schedule –he was due to pitch Thursday in Norfolk — and give Guthrie and Brian Matusz an extra day of rest. More to come on the site…

Arrieta's first test

Well, the Orioles have said they like top prospect Jake Arrieta’s confidence, and he’s going to need every bit of that for his debut, which is expected to be Thursday against the New York Yankees.

While the initial thought was Arrieta would debut on Saturday in place of Brad Bergesen, it’s looking now like Jeremy Guthrie will be pushed back a day and Arrieta will stay on track (he was scheduled to throw Thursday in Norfolk anyhow.) This move also helps Guthrie –who was dealing with soreness last start — get another day in between starts.

Nothing is official, but I should have more on this situation later this afternoon when I get to the ballpark. As for the corresponding roster move, it could be a reliever, such as Alberto Castillo, but that will depend on the state of the Os ‘pen after tonight’s game. They could opt to send out a position player if they feel they are short on arms… 

Saturday's starter and Arrieta's timetable.

The Orioles skipped Brad Bergesen’s start with Monday’s off day and won’t need a fifth starter until Saturday against the Mets. Who gets that start will depend largely on what happens the rest of this week.

Jake Arrieta (who is scheduled to start Thursday in Norfolk) could make that start if the team has to use Bergesen in relief sometime this week. If not, Bergesen could make Saturday’s scheduled start. Arrieta’s dominance in Triple-A has all the Orioles starters on notice. It’s not a matter of if, but really when the team wants to call him up.

I’m hearing there’s an extra pitcher in Norfolk that is up from Bowie today, and it’s not official, but he’s largely thought to be taking Arrieta’s roster spot soon. As in, the next few days, soon.

Bergesen needs to demonstrate that his mechanics are straightened out and he can be effective on a consistent basis. I think it’s too early to give up on him. But Arrieta has been knocking on the door for a while. It’s time the Orioles see what he can do.  

Regardless, should be an interesting next few days.

Minors Matters

First, just an FYI for tonight’s Draft. The Orioles have the third overall pick and the media will get to speak with scouting director Joe Jordan at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET. As I noted in my Draft preview, the Os top spot affords them the luxury of getting either prep shortstop Manny Machado or hs arm Jameson Taillon. According to this moring’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Bucs are leaning toward Machado, and it’s believed the O’s prefer Taillon anyhow. Things could always change, but that’s the way it’s looking right now.

Also, I got a few emails about Josh Bell not playing for Norfolk these last two games. He has been sidelined with a stiff neck. In other moves, the Tides placed outfielder Joey Gathright on the disabled list with a strained back, and activated Michael Aubrey to assume his roster spot.

We’ve solved the Jake Arrieta in relief question –given that Os were unsure if they would need him — and he pitched two scoreless innings out of Norfolk’s ‘pen. It’s not a question of if, but when we will see Arrieta up with the O’s. I’d imagine a lot of what they do with Arrieta hinges on if Brad Bergesen can get back on track.  

Nolan Reimold went 2-4 and hit a two-run home run, his third of the season and Brandon Snyder homered for the second straight day — his fourth of the season — in Norfolk’s 12-9 loss.

Double-A Bowie’s Zach Britton started for the Baysox and earned the win to improve to 5-3 on the season. Britton pitched 7 1 1.3 innings and allowed two unearned runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out six. In his last three starts, Britton is 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA, a stretch of two earned runs over 20 2/3 innings.

Arrieta on the late scratch

This is what Jake Arrieta had to say following last night’s scratch which he called one of the most bizarre nights he ever had…

“I was called in there an hour before gametime and they said, ‘You’re not starting.’ They gave me the rundown of how the game was going to start out. They said if you pitch you’re going to come out of the pen, and that’s all the information they gave me. They didn’t say anything else. They’re just following orders from higher up. That’s all I knew, that’s all they knew.”

[was it frustrating?]
 “With the lack of information you feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions, but I’m sure the answers will come in the future.”

“I think there’s a good reason why they did what they did, but it’s a reason I don’t know.”

Tides manager Bobby Dickerson said he got a call at about 6 p.m.

“I was told by the farm director to use my pitchers in that order,” he said. “That’s all I knew. All I was privy to was to scratch him from the start.”