Though it certainly looked like Jason Berken staved off a trip back to Norfolk with a solid performance in his last start, his place in the starting rotation really wasn't in great danger when he took the mound against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. Rich Hill had come up sore and was headed for the disabled list, which opened a spot in the rotation for Chris Tillman, and there wasn't really a starting pitcher in the minor leagues who made more sense -- based on the player development timetable at that moment -- than keeping Berken awhile longer.
It was the injury to Brad Bergesen that forced Andy MacPhail to rethink his reluctance to promote one of the elite pitching prospects ahead of schedule. Brian Matusz is expected to start against the Tigers on Tuesday night, and you could make the case that Berken now must compete with him to stay in the rotation when Bergesen is ready to return.
But I'm not even sure that's the way it will play out, because I have to wonder if the Orioles are going to let Matusz pitch into September no matter how well he does in his major league audition. Most teams are hesitant to bring up pitchers with minimal pro experience for the September roster expansion because they don't want to push them into that extra month right away. Don't know why you wouldn't view Matusz any differently just because he is being called up earlier.
My guess -- and it's just a guess: If Matusz pitches well through August, the Orioles will either expand the rotation to give everybody extra rest during the final weeks of the season, or shut him down.