If Jake Arrieta wants to get advice on what he may experience in his Major League debut tonight, all he has to do is walk a few feet in the O’s clubhouse.
He could ask Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, David Hernandez or Brian Matusz. They all made and won their Major League debuts last season.
Berken beat Toronto in his debut on May 26, pitching five innings and giving up two runs in a 7-2 victory.
“Obviously he’ll be a little excited, a little anxious, a little nervous. Once you get out there and start pitching, it can seem kind of normal again for the most part. There are a lot of different emotions. I’m sure he’ll have family here like I did. It’s an exciting time for you and your family,” Berken said.
“You just try to keep it as similar as you did in the minor leagues. People tell you it’s the same game. Keep your same routine and try to keep things the same as possible.
“He’ll do fine. He’s a confident guy with good stuff. I think he’ll do a good job tonight.”
Berken said when you are on a Major League mound for the first time you may want to let it all soak in, but that can be hard to do.
“It all happened pretty quick. I remember the next day, I came in the clubhouse and thought ‘that really happened fast.’ Didn’t really get a chance to let it soak in until it was done. This will be a night he’ll never forget.”
Hernandez, now pitching in late relief, debuted on May 28 last year vs. Detroit, just two days after Berken.
He got a 5-1 win vs. the Tigers, allowing just one run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings.
“It’s the pinnacle of what you dream about as a kid. It was such a great feeling. It’s hard to keep your emotions in check,” Hernandez recalled.
“It was all a blur. Going up against the Yankees is never an easy task. I looked at it as just another start. You try to keep your team in the game.
“You know you’ve put in the work to be here and be successful. He’s a hard worker, I’ve known him for a couple of years now. He’s earned it. He could have been up here weeks ago. He’s ready.”
Hernandez said a real key for any young pitcher in his first or any start, is to try and make it feel like just another game you have pitched in the minor leagues.
“For me that was the toughest thing. You can’t really worry about the names on the back. It’s just got to be you and catcher really.”
Last year, the Orioles were only the second team in Major League history and the first since 1888 with at least five pitchers who started and won their debuts in the same season. Bergesen, Berken, Hernandez, Matusz and Uehara all did that. The only team ever with six was the 1888 Chicago White Stockings.