Final thoughts on Bergesen’s debut

April 22, 2009 | Luke Jones

I just got back from the ballpark and wanted to share my thoughts on Brad Bergesen’s impressive major league debut and win, as the Orioles broke their five-game losing streak and defeated the Chicago White Sox, 10-3.

- After waiting five long years progressing through the farm system to reach the big leagues, Bergesen had to endure a 1 1/2 hour rain delay to finally take the hill at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  This would be unnerving for most rookies, but he certainly didn’t seem to be affected.

Bergesen started strongly, inducing two ground ball outs before facing major league home run leader Carlos Quentin.  After a 12-pitch battle, the rookie right-hander struck him out swinging.

You had to be impressed with Bergesen going after hitters right from the start.  The battle with Quentin lacked the same drama but reminded me of Jim Johnson’s 10-pitch duel with Manny Ramirez last May that really put the reliever on the radar.

- Bergesen’s sinking fastball consistently sits right around 89-90 mph.  It appeared to be a heavy sinker, getting nine groundouts on the evening.

He didn’t need to use the slider very much, because he located the sinker so well throughout the night.  When he did throw the off-speed pitch, it was consistently in the 83-84 mph range.

- After Ty Wigginton’s fourth-inning error put runners on first and third with one out, Bergesen didn’t flinch as he struck out Jim Thome.  How many times have we seen Orioles pitchers unravel after a fielding error already this season?

Though he followed up the strikeout by allowing back-to-back RBI singles, the rookie definitely showed poise when facing the future Hall of Famer Thome.

- He showed some signs of tiring in the fifth after giving up an A.J. Pierzynski single and an Alexei Ramirez double to begin the inning; however, he once again settled down, allowing only one run to cross the plate on an RBI groundout.

- Pitching at Camden Yards can be deadly when you allow the opposition to hit the ball in the air.  Bergesen surrendered only two fly ball outs in his 5 2/3 innings and didn’t allow the first until the fifth inning.  Another good sign.

- Bergesen can really be an effective major league starter if he can develop an off-speed pitch in the 76-78 mph range.  With his fastball (90) and slider (83) not having a dramatic difference in velocity, he may have some difficulty once major league hitters adjust.  This is why many scouts project him to be a reliever in the long run.

- Final line: 5 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts

Bergesen pitched as well as you could realistically expect.  It was refreshing to see a young Orioles pitcher attack the strike zone after watching others such as Garrett Olson and Daniel Cabrera lack the command and poise to succeed at this level.

You have to feel good for him getting his first major league win and showing that he belongs at this level.  It’s only one start, and he’ll need to make adjustments as he progresses, but so far, so good.

We can certainly feel excited after this one.  If Bergesen can look this good, just think about the possibilities when Tillman, Arrieta, Matusz, and the others are ready for Baltimore.  Don’t print the playoff tickets yet, but things could get interesting again at Camden Yards in another year or two.

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