We can probably agree that Jason Berken has been invaluable coming out of the bullpen and consuming innings in long relief.
The debate centers on whether he should be rewarded with a spot in the rotation or left alone to thrive in his current role.
Berken has allowed two runs and nine hits in 12 innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts. He’s held opponents to one run over his last three appearances spanning 9 1/3 innings.
You’ll recall that Berken lost 12 games as a starter last season, tying him for the third-most by a rookie in club history. But he also won four of his last five decisions.
Berken could be Brian Bass, better suited to enter games with the Orioles trailing and stopping the bleeding. Or he could deserve a chance to replace Brad Bergesen, who’s headed to Triple-A Norfolk, once the Orioles need another starter.
Not to straddle the fence - it leaves a crease in my pants - but I can see both arguments. He’s been so important to the team coming out of the bullpen, why create another hole while trying to plug the one in the rotation? On the other hand, he could be a significant upgrade over Bergesen and also allow the Orioles to keep Jake Arrieta in Norfolk, where the young right-hander happens to be thriving.
I would wait until a fifth starter is needed and check back with Arrieta and the other Tides starters. The Orioles have two open dates on the schedule - Thursday and Monday - so there’s no rush to make a decision.
At this exact moment, I’m leaning toward keeping Berken in his current role if the Orioles have another viable option. Let’s see how the pitching picture looks at the end of this month.
Down on the farm: Ryan O’Shea picked up his first win for Single-A Frederick today, allowing one run and three hits in five innings in the Keys’ 6-1 victory over Potomac.
Second baseman Buck Britton went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, leaving his average at .385.
Billy Rowell, starting at third base, went 0-for-5 and committed his third error.