O’s spring training: The 25 who will make it (#11)

March 04, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I’m resisting the temptation to write a Rhyne Hughes blog this morning…and I’m going to stick with the plan and just continue to hum along with the “25 who will make it” series. 

But first, let me tell you why Rhyne Hughes might just — (nope, I’m not gonna do it).

When the O’s looked at the 2010 season, they saw the possibility that four of their starting pitchers (Tillman, Matusz, Hernandez and Bergesen) have a total of 58 career starts.  And being the smart baseball people they are over there at The Warehouse, they know a sopohomore slump or two could put a halt to their grand plan of “putting more emphasis on wins and losses” in the 2010 season. 

Enter Kevin Millwood, who is destined to come north to Baltimore in April as the team’s veteran starting pitcher after being acquired in December via a trade with the Texas Rangers.

Millwood will definitely be here in early April.  Early August?  That’s another story.

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the start of the season: 100%

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the end of the season: 50%

Odds he’ll be an effective contributor in 2010:  60%

Odds his name will be mentioned at the trade deadline in late July:  100%

There’s a very good chance the Birds will shop Millwood in July or other teams will come calling for a veteran right handed pitcher at the deadline.  He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season…which makes it a natural for his name to be thrown around more than it would be if he happened to just be “another” 34-year old pitcher in the middle of a 5-year deal.

I like Millwood as a pitcher because he’s reliable.  Over the last 8 seasons, he’s only missed 15 starts and his innings-pitched total is 170 or better in 7 of those 8 campaigns.  His career ERA is 4.02, which definitely puts him a hair below the league average over the course of his career.  He’s a good pitcher.  He’s not a great pitcher.  But he’s a guy who knows what he’s doing out there.  The only issue with his move to Baltimore…he does tend to give up a lot of home runs (average of 22 per-season) and pitching in Camden Yards might spike those dinger numbers. 

For now, though, the O’s will rely on Millwood to do what he’s always done (chew up innings as a reliable starter) and maybe add a new task…that of mentoring this young, eager group of orange hurlers who figure to be around long after Millwood’s brief tenure in Baltimore is over.

There was a brief period of shock – even dismay, perhaps – when Millwood learned he was going to Baltimore.  Not many pitchers relish the idea of having to face the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays offensive weapons 6-8 times a year, but that’s the hand you’re dealt in the American League East.  In the last month or so, Millwood’s public attitude about the move to Baltimore seems much better and it even appears he’s looking forward to serving as the steward of the team’s young pitching department.  And that’s a good thing…because his numbers will probably go UP this year, so the mentoring role might turn out to be his most valuable contribution to the team.

Drew’s projections for Millwood in 2010:

* 9-7

* 4.24 ERA

* 1.297 WHIP

EDIT: I think Millwood will be dealt at the deadline, which explains his 9-7 W/L record