If part of being a pitching prospect is learning to deal with adversity, than the 2010 season is becoming Brandon Erbe's personal classroom.
He and Kevin Millwood have something in common. They both made 14 starts this year without getting a win.
Millwood got the elusive first win in his 15th start. Erbe is not quite sure yet when his 15th start will take place.
A few days after his last start, June 20 vs. Toledo, he felt some right shoulder soreness and went on the disabled last Friday, retroactive to last Wednesday.
He told me Monday he considers this to be a minor setback and he has not been scheduled for an MRI. He hopes to be back pitching within a week or so.
But what about that 0-10 record and 5.73 ERA?
"I really don't pay attention to it, honestly. I'm completely aware that it is 0-10, but I've been pitching a lot better recently, the last six or seven stats. I know what people probably think, but unless someone asks about it, that's the only time I really think about it. My job is stay away from that kind of stuff and just pitch."
Before the O's third-round pick from 2005 went to the DL, Erbe gave up 3 ER over his past two starts and had an ERA of 3.86 over his last five starts.
"I've felt more confident and better my last few starts. I've gone through basically two months of struggling. But I've learned a lot. Baseball is a very humbling game, it shows you that you need to continue to work on things. You can't get too high or too low."
Erbe in 2010:
April: 0-4, 8.35 in four starts
May & June: 0-6, 4.82 in ten starts
Erbe knows fans and reporters will see his stats and doubt that he is making any progress, but he says that he is progressing.
"It's more of a feel thing, as a pitcher than results. It's about progression and development right now. Things will come around, I'm not disappointed and I'm not frustrated, really. I understand there is stuff I need to work on.
"I'm still very confident, I know what kind of ability I have, even if it doesn't always show through. I'm know what I am capable of and have a lot of confidence. I'm not that worried about it.
"I went through this two and three years ago in Frederick. I was able to come back and learn from that. I've been through times where I have struggled before and was able to come back and be successful."
Erbe has been limited to five innings in several recent starts. He'd like to go deeper, but it hasn't worked out that way.
"I'd like to stay in games but the organization and or pitching coach and manager have their reasons. Sometimes we don't even know what those reasons are, but we have to respect their decisions. That's why they are here and it's not for us to question them."
In 70 2/3 innings on the year, Erbe has given up 86 hits, including 11 homers, with 22 walks and 50 strikeouts. Opponent batters are hitting .294 against him.