Talk about a strong finish to a season. Orioles 20-year-old pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez put together one impressive four-start run that ended last night for Double-A Bowie with the Baysox season ending on Monday.
Saturday night, the lefty went six shutout innings of five-hit ball to win at Erie and improve to 4-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 11 Double-A starts.
In those last four games, Rodriguez went 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA. In 25 innings he gave up just 16 hits and one run with three walks and 26 strikeouts. Very, very impressive.
Signed out of Valencia, Venezuela by former O's pitcher Calvin Maduro in January of 2010, Rodriguez is rated as the Orioles' fifth best prospect by Baseball America.
He went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA over 14 starts for Single-A Frederick before he moved up to Double-A. For a few starts it looked like that promotion may have been too aggressive, but Rodriguez's last four starts ended any of that talk.
"This has been my best year of my four in professional baseball," Rodriguez said this week in Bowie. "Went to the Futures Game and the Carolina League (against the California League) All-Star game. I've worked hard and this is what can happen when you work hard."
Rodriguez, who is 10-7 with an ERA of 3.41 in 25 starts for the Keys and Baysox combined, is a strong contender to win the Jim Palmer award as the O's minor league pitcher of the year.
He was a non-roster invitee to spring training in February. That was when he was coming off pitching for Single-A Delmarva.
No doubt, he'll be back at O's camp next February and may get a longer look this time.
Meanwhile in New York today, Wei-Yin Chen will try to bounce back from the worst start of his career and pitch the Orioles to a win over the Yankees.
Tuesday at Boston, Chen gave up eight hits and eight runs over 3 2/3 innings. Chen entered August with a 2.87 ERA, but went 1-4 with an ERA of 6.00 in six starts during the month.
The longball has been an issue lately. After yielding just six homers over his first 14 starts, Chen has allowed six over the last three starts.
In six career starts against New York, counting the postseason, Chen is 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA.
Seeing Chen give up eight runs was a strange sight for a pitcher that has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 14 of 17 starts this year and 37 of 49 as an Oriole.
Can Chen bounce back today?
Minors moves: With today's roster moves involving the Orioles adding two catchers from Triple-A Norfolk, the O's will send catcher Brian Ward and infielder/outfielder Buck Britton from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk with the Tides chasing a playoff berth.
Catcher Caleb Joseph would be an obvious candidate to move to Norfolk, but the O's will let him play his last two games for Bowie as he chases a 100-RBI season. Joseph is at 97 RBIs. If the Tides do make the playoffs, Joseph will move to Norfolk for the postseason
My take on Chen: I don't know what is wrong with Chen, but seeing him walk five today after giving up eight runs his last start makes you wonder. He has allowed 11 runs in 7 2/3 innings over his last two starts after going seven innings or more in five of his previous eight outings.
I don't buy the theory that Chen is tiring. Remember he missed nearly two months and he's thrown only 110 innings on the year. Maybe the oblique injury that sidelined him earlier is an issue again, but that is just me wondering and/or speculating. Maybe he just had two poor starts.
Gary Thorne predicted on MASN that Kevin Gausman, who is now in the game, could enter the rotation. I'm all for that. Time to turn this kid loose and let him pitch.