…and I do mean awful. The Orioles mercifully optioned the struggling Bergesen to AAA Norfolk yesterday after his latest disastrous effort. Bergesen looked to be a big part the O’s pitching plans coming into this season but thus far he’s pitched to a robust 12.19 ERA through 3 starts. Granted, his defense has failed him to the tune of 6 unearned runs in those 3 starts. That being said, Bergesen has allowed an additional 14 earned runs in just 10 1/3 innings.
As I watched young Brad serve up batting practice to the offensively challenged Mariners the name that came to mind was Josh Towers. Like Bergesen, Towers steadily progressed through the Orioles’ system and was successful at each level. Towers went 8-10 as a rookie in 2001 and looked to be part of the club’s pitching plans for years to come. Towers lasted just 3 starts in 2002 going 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA. He never again pitched for the O’s and later resurfaced in Toronto for a few seasons.
Bergesen was never highly regarded as a prospect and even after his success as a rookie last season I heard a lot of baseball people doubting the young right hander’s long term viability. The AL East is a rough place to groom young pitching and it may be that Bergesen simply lacks the pure “stuff” to compete. He may make a nice #3 starter in San Diego, but this ain’t San Diego. Hopefully I’m dead wrong and Brad can go to Norfolk and work his way back to the O’s rotation.
On a related note, it looks as if the Orioles will insert Jason Berken into the rotation to take Bergesen’s spot. I’m going on record to say that’s a terrible idea. First off, Berken has pitched well out of the ‘pen this season. In fact, he’s the one player on the team who is actually thriving. The last thing they should do is change his role. Secondly, Berken was disastrous as a starter last season and was always considered a lesser prospect than the recently demoted Bergesen. Last point, Jake Arrieta is off to a hot start at Norfolk, pitched well in the Spring, and is a highly regarded prospect with the “stuff” to compete in the AL East. Berken should stay in long relief and Arrieta should get the call to join the O’s rotation.