Is Bergesen better off in the bullpen?

As you’ve learned by now, left-hander Brian Matusz will make tomorrow night’s start in Oakland. The other candidate, Brad Bergesen, will be available in the bullpen.

Bergesen tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his last outing, allowing two hits and enabling the Orioles to make only one roster move for a reliever - right-hander Willie Eyre.

In his previous appearance, he gave up one run over three innings.

Doing the math, that’s one run over 7 1/3 innings.

I’m not polishing a Cy Young Award for Bergesen, but I’m wondering whether he’s found his niche. I’m wondering whether he should stay in the bullpen as a long and middle reliever.

Manager Buck Showalter says he doesn’t want to pigeonhole Bergesen into one role. He wishes that his starters would pitch deeper in games and make a long reliever obsolete, but we know that’s not going to happen.

“Right now, it’s really whatever they want, it’s whatever the team needs,” Bergesen said. “If it’s a spot start, I’m up for it. If it’s getting another shot at starting, great. If they need me in the bullpen, great. I’m going to give them 100 percent, whatever they need me to do.”

Bergesen is getting more sink on his fastball, which leads to more ground balls and more outs. He’s made an adjustment in his delivery after watching film of Kevin Gregg and talking to the veteran closer, who’s been a mentor of sorts to the young pitchers.

“For whatever reason and whatever sparked it, I started watching him and really picked up some of the things that he was doing,” Bergesen said. “One of the things was, because he starts a little open, I thought that would help my arm become a little more freed up to work a little quicker out in front, which develops that sink, which lets it happen, as opposed to trying to force it a little earlier on and it flattens out. So that’s one of the adjustments, of just kind of opening up a little bit more to free up the arm.

“Rick (Adair) has been working relentlessly with me, and he’s been such an influence on me this year.”

When Bergesen says he’s opening up more, he means that he’s angling his feet a little more open in his set-up, where his alignment is facing more toward the left-handed hitter’s side of the batters box instead of straight ahead.

“When I do it once in a while, it feels pretty good, so I just started trying to figure out what’s going to get me that consistency, because when the timing’s right, it’s great, but when it’s not, it flattens out and that’s where the struggles come,” Bergesen said. “I’m just trying to find something that matches up with what I do to make me consistent.”

The Orioles have been waiting for that consistency from Bergesen, who’s 2-7 with a 5.38 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 23 games, including 12 starts. I’d be hesitant to tamper with his role at the moment. He’s filling an important one. And the rotation is adding Matusz tomorrow and possibly Zach Britton over the weekend.

Down on the farm, Steve Johnson picked up his first Triple-A win yesterday, allowing two runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings in Norfolk’s 4-2 victory over Charlotte.

Steven Bumbry hit his eighth home run for Single-A Frederick.

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