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What do you do with Jason Berken's rotation spot?

After Monday’s game, Orioles lefty Rich Hill said he has been dealing with tendinitis in his shoulder for much of the season.

So it looks like there is no mystery as to what’s going to happen when top prospect Chris Tillman gets promoted to pitch Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals.

Hill likely will go on the disabled list. Who knows if he’ll pitch in the big leagues again this year? Certainly, they could stash him away at least until September call-ups.

The club could still designate him and try to get him through waivers. But the DL is the safe bet.

So Jason Berken’s chances of staying around beyond Tuesday have improved dramatically.

But here’s a question: What if Berken struggles again Tuesday against the lowly Royals? He is 1-8 with a 6.55 ERA. He hasn’t won since his big-league debut.

He’s only 25 and wasn’t supposed to be in the majors this quickly anyway. Heck, he wasn’t even invited to big-league spring training.

The guy has a lot of moxie. But, if he keeps losing, he might be better off going back down to Triple-A where he can get some success again before returning in September.

The question is who would replace him in the rotation? The answer isn’t Brian Matusz, even though you would love it and he is tearing up Double-A.

Andy MacPhail has been adamant about the schedule Matusz is on, and it doesn’t include the majors in 2009. So put that thought away.

Jake Arrieta is a possibility, but he’s made just nine Triple-A starts (3-4, 4.34 ERA). Troy Patton (1-3, 6.00 ERA in seven starts) has struggled at Norfolk.

They could always bring up someone who is not considered a future mainstay such as Andy Mitchell (9-2, 3.82), David Pauley (7-9, 4.08) or Chris Waters (8-4, 4.55). Or they could move a big-league reliever – Mark Hendrickson, Brian Bass or Matt Albers – to the rotation.

Or they could do nothing, and keep trotting out Berken, and let him learn on the job.

Daily Think Special: What do you do with Jason Berken’s rotation spot?

Comments

I'd bring up Waters. He's a decent lefty with some experience. With Hill gone, we could use a lefty in his place. to me it looks like Berken would do better in the pen. he seems to tire after 5 innings or so. I think there will some guys gone after friday, that are in our pen now.

This is why the big boys make the big bucks - to make these high impact decisions. It would have been nice if Rich Hill had come out and been lights out yesterday, though that may have simply delayed the inevitable. Now, he's clearly done for at least the foreseeable future in Baltimore. And we have to decide about Berken on his own merits, factoring in what the other options are.

To me, Berken is in Baltimore now because he was more expendable than some of the guys with higher expectations (Tillman, Arrieta, Patton, Matusz), not because he was truly ready. He was "ready enough" when they needed someone to, what was it, take Eaton's place? But now I think he has shown enough to be someone you want to maximize his future value to the team. That would be best served by letting him go back to Norfolk and have some more success, build on what he has learned, work on what he needs to improve, and be back in Baltimore in September. The question still remains - who takes his place?

None of the possible options you mentioned that are already in Baltimore are good ones - been there, done that, not helping the team in the short or long term to go back again. Andy Mitchell is a career minor leaguer, and at age 30 is no longer any kind of "prospect", so there is no worry about him being "damaged" by "coming up too soon." (And yes, there was a sale on quotation marks on amazon.com last week so I stocked up.) So he gets the call as kind of a reward for lifetime service combined with being as good as any other option available. Assuming you can in any way match up the rotation slots. Not that he is tearing up the IL, but he has managed to win a lot of games and keep his ERA down, so he must be learning to minimize the damage. I know, more difficult to do with ML hitters, but I'd rather worry about maximizing Berken's future value than whatever happens with Mitchell.

And no way do I bring any of the top four prospects listed earlier up until they are ready based on their own merits. It's doubtful any of them break camp next year with the team, let alone are ready now.

It's best for Berken and the club that he go back to Triple A for a while. On one hand, Arrieta is going to be here eventually anyway, so why not give him a shot now? On the other hand, it's good to reward success, so why not give Andy Mitchell a chance to see what he can do in the big leagues? When Hill gets healthy, it might be interesting to see what he could do out of the bullpen.

Dan,
Don’t you find it convenient that Mr. Hill now claims that he has tendinitis after another bad start and the Club is bringing up Tillman on Wednesday?
Ray

Ignore it and pretend it isn't there.

Interesting question. If he struggles vs the Royals, I'd be inclined to send him down so he can gain some confidence, then call him back up when the minor league season ends. Make him feel a part of the big picture but have him work on his pitches and being aggressive. As for who fills his spot, leave Matusz and Arrieta down on the farm for the rest of the year. Bring up some mercenary arm, Waters or Pauley, to eat some innings.

Coffee please, to go....

Move Berken to the pen and put Brian Bass in the rotation. Albers has the best stuff, but they need to be mindful that the guy will always be managing that torn labrum. Hendrickson is having success in the pen. They should leave well enough alone. None of the AAAA guys make sense.

I would send Berken down and bring up Chris Waters. Not that Waters is the answer, but I would want Berken to get some confidence back at the minor league level.

Also I would put Hill on the DL and as he rehabs turn him into a situational lefty. We need one. It may not work, but it's worth a shot. He would have to throw strikes of course, but maybe he could do that more consistently when facing only 1 or 2 hitters an outing.

Nearly everyone in the scouting community thinks Matusz is ready. He's dominating at Bowie. It's time.

It's time to take a look at Patton and Waters. I do think next Spring, if the club does not accelerate the schedule and bring up Arrieta and Matusz, fans are going to tire of "wait 'til next year" McPhail. Ticket prices are steep enough, let me watch the future THIS summer!

First of all, I would hope for a solid outing from Berken so he can re-gain some confidence and build on it. If that doesn't happen, I like bringing up Andy Mitchell as a stopgap. It rewards the guy for a good job at Norfolk and lets your young studs stay on the farm to mature.

Waters or Mitchell. CSB Jack gave the best reasons why for Mitchell.

Waters, His sole job with this orgasnization appears to be bailing out other pitchers. He is suirrounded by his own teammates and local photohghrasphers.

I would put Hill on the DL; keep Bergen for one game for further evaluation; bring up Tillman and prep Waters for a look in the next series.I would like to see Bass get a chance as a starter.I would also like to know how many other pitchers are playing hurt. Is Guthrie hiding something?

If Berkin struggles tonight I'd bring up Waters. He'll be better than Hill, Patton and Arietta are not doing well and Matusz needs to go to Norfolk right away-not Baltimore.

Bring up Andy Michell. Sure he is another right hander but he is also a winner and a true grinder. Andy was an undrafted free agent who now leads Norfolk in wins. He pitches to a little bit too much contact but he deserves a shot. Bring Matusz up to replace him in Norfolk. Maybe Andy Mac will change his mind after four or five AAA starts.

I don't believe "Who knows if he’ll pitch in the big leagues again this year" is a question.

Leave him where he is, let him learn how to locate his pitches up here, what difference does it make at this point.

I would give Bass a shot. He has been playing in that losing the game, middle reliever role, so I think he deserves a shot.

Cliff Clavin is to Cheers what Ken Francis is to Connolly's. When did you start becoming the grammar police? Go find your buddy Bob Lancione and find a nice bingo game at the Y.

Mitchell has earned the call this year. But if you are going to trade a lefty for a lefty bring up Waters since he already has ML time under his belt. IMO you still bring up Mitchell because you want to give the impression that success gets you to the BIGS. Arrieta needs more time at AAA and Matusz nees to stop pitching against 3rd graders.

Matusz...he is more ML ready than Tillman...he's older, more experienced (college versus A ball), etc. Why wait??

Jason Berken stays in the rotation.

If he can't get it together he needs to be sent back to Norfolk.

The question can't be answered until Berken and Tillman pitch. If Berken contunues to have early inning problems and Tillman has similiar problems in tommorrow's start. I myself wonder what the Orioles will do.

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