Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Berken and Hernandez Emerged From the Crucible

Last season, the Oriole rotation was so suspect that you had to expect that some young pitchers were going to be thrown to the wolves. And they were. One was 25-year-old Jason Berken, a right handed pitcher with a total of 5 AAA starts under his belt and another was 24-year-old David Hernandez (who only had 11 starts in Norfolk), another righty. Neither was on any top prospect lists. There were no expectations.

Hernandez posted a 5.42 ERA (6.61 FIP, 5.60 xFIP) over 101.1 innings and Berken posted a 6.54 ERA (5.34 FIP, 5.10 xFIP) over 119.2 innings. It wasn't pretty and it appeared that the Orioles were fine with using these two "non-prospects" as cannon fodder.

Berken and Hernandez will always be linked in my mind. They were called up around the same time, they both were rushed, they both struggled mightily...and they both showed a lot of guts in the process. These guys got absolutely shelled in 2009 but they never seemed to get discouraged. There were no slumped shoulders or Daniel Cabrera-style implosions when things went badly. They stuck to the plan, kept working and did the best they could.

Neither were locks to make the team out of spring training but they both made the team; Berken in the bullpen and Hernandez in the rotation. Hernandez struggled again as a starter but has joined Berken in the pen to form a nice 1-2 late inning combo.

Berken has a 1.66 ERA (3.09 FIP, 3.93 xFIP) over 43.1 innings. His strikeout rate is up, his walk and home run rate is down. Hernandez has a 2.11 ERA over 12.1 innings since moving to the pen and his strikeout rate has doubled. They look to be big pieces of the Oriole bullpen in the years to come.

We certainly know they have the makeup to handle the assignment.


The Oriole Way said...

Just another example of the folly in signing injury prone relievers to big money free agent contracts. Le sigh.

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that's good to hear.