A few minor things going down on the pitching side for the Orioles recently. Fun fact: all three guys have birthdays in August.
First up, minor leaguer Brian Parker “has been suspended for the first 50 games of the season following a second positive test for a drug of abuse under the minor league drug program.” Parker is a 24 year-old right-handed relief pitcher who spent most of 2009 in High-A ball, posting a 4.31 ERA. He’s done a good job striking out batters (8.9 K/9) and showed decent control (3.6 BB/9), but a 4.38 FIP for a reliever at that level for someone that age isn’t anything to be too worried about. In fact, I had never even heard of the guy before this news came out.
On the additions end, the Orioles signed 25 year-old lefty reliever Will Startup to a minor league deal. He missed the 2008 season and most of the 2009 season due to injury, and was just OK before that. Startup struck out a fair number of batters and didn’t walk too many, but his low ERAs and FIPs are likely the result of depressed home run rates, which themselves are largely byproducts of low HR/FB rates. I wouldn’t count on him being much more than a replacement level reliever, but at least he’s left-handed.
The team also added another left-handed reliever in 33 year-old Will Ohman – also on a minor league deal. Ohman’s only pitched 12.1 innings for the Dodgers last year, but his 5.84 ERA on 8 walks and 4 home runs allowed (to just 7 K’s) were not very good. He should improve on those numbers for 2010 – CHONE has him with 7.1 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 4.16 FIP – which would make him a slightly above replacement level relief pitcher (maybe 0.2 WAR over 40 IP). It’s a fine risk-free move for the team – especially since they’re a little light on left-handed pitching – but nothing to get to excited about.