Friday, June 1, 2007

This Pitching Staff Won't Waiver

I love winning, man, I love winning! You know what I mean? It's, like, better than losing?

- Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh

The O's are back to .500 for the first time in weeks and there are three big reasons Sam Perlozzo's been able to keep this team afloat (and himself employed): Steve Trachsel, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres. What do the 14 year veteran, the rookie former first round pick and the lefty converted from reliever to starter all have in common? All were picked up by the O's after other teams had waived them and all have been at the center of Baltimore's recent turnaround.

Jeremy Guthrie

When the O's claimed Guthrie off of waivers from the Indians this winter, I was sure he was destined for Norfolk. When I found out he was out of options, I figured he had an outside chance of making the team as a middle reliever, which he did, and performed quite well in that role until Jaret Wright went on the DL. Guthrie was pressed into duty and has impressed ever since.

When he moved into the rotation, I figured he would be the kind of pitcher that hitters would really catch up with the second or third time through the rotation but as I've said before, he's proven me wrong and been just the opposite in an extreme way.

BA vs Guthrie 1st PA: .322
BA vs Guthrie 2nd PA: .193
BA vs Guthrie 3rd PA: .081 (!!!)

With a trend like that, Guthrie could well be a workhorse. He seems to get better as the game moves along. this former first round draft pick has blossomed under Leo Mazzone's tutelage.

Steve Trachsel

Trachsel was waiting by the phone as Spring Training began and was seen as a desperation move for the Orioles, a scrapheap signing because nothing better was available when Kris Benson went down for the season with shoulder trouble. I thought the stepdown from Benson to Trachsel was no that far when the signing was made. I expected Trachsel to come close to duplicating Benson's mediocre numbers from the previous year which was probably the best we could have hoped for.

However, Trachsel has been our most consistent pitcher all year. While this may not last (Steve has walked 31 and only struck out only 18 thus far), Trachsel has made batters miss enough and induced enough groundballs to post a WHIP of 1.29 which is good enough in the AL to imagine future success.

Brian Burres

Burres was a 31st round draft pick for the Giants in 2000 and the O's claimed him off of waivers in January 2006. After some light relief work last year, Burres was a major player in the bullpen this season posting a 1.35 ERA as a reliever. When lefty phenom Adam Loewen was lost to a stress fracture in his arm, Burres was pressed into service and has performed better than expected. Although he may ultimately better at relief, it's nice to know we have a capable spot starter in the pen.

We must give credit to Mazzone on these guys since he has a track record of taking John Burketts, Jorge Sosas and John Thomsons and getting the most out of them. Kudos also to the front office for finding these guys in the first place and improving the team while giving up nothing for them.

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