This may be a rhetorical question, but why has Jeremy Guthrie became the focal point of all the frustration and angst Oriole fans have been feeling so far this season? Just the mention of his name elicits howls of despair and angry demands that the team rid themselves of the likes of him.
Granted, Guthrie didn’t have the best of seasons in 2009, leading the American League in losses with seventeen, and in homer runs allowed, with 35. His performance at spring training this year has also been a cause of concern. Guthrie was winless in four decision, pitching to a 7.40 ERA, and surrendering 4 home runs in a little over 20 innings of work.
Although he didn’t live up to expectations in 2009, it wasn’t all bad for the 30 year old right hander. He led the team in wins, with 10, and in starts with 33. Guthrie also became only the fifth Orioles starter since 2000 to pitch over 200 innings in a season, on a team that was desperate to get innings from their starting rotation.
People seem to forget that in 2007 and 2008 Guthrie was clearly the best starter in the Orioles rotation. In 2007, Guthrie pitched to a very respectable 3.70 ERA in 175 innings, then bested that in 2008 with a 3.63 ERA in 190 innings. Those numbers weren’t only good numbers for an Orioles starter, they would match up nicely with the numbers of starters on any team, good or bad.
The biggest source of concern about Guthrie is his penchant for giving up the long ball in 2009, and in the games he pitched this spring. Thirty-nine home runs allowed in 220 innings is an extremely high number, but Guthrie allowed a high number of dingers, 23 in 2007, and 24 in 2008, in the years he excelled. For him, it’s about limiting the damage that is done by the home runs he surrenders.
I would rather see Guthrie pitch seven innings tonight and allow three solo home runs, then say pitch five innings and allow six runs while not giving up a home run.
The feeling is that Guthrie will be given several weeks at the start of the 2010 campaign to get things turned around. If he continues to struggle the team will have to make a decision about removing him from the starting rotation, and possibly letting him work his problems out in the bullpen.
Here’s one fans wish that Jeremy gets off to a good start this year, beginning with tonight’s game in Tampa.