There has been a lot of Jeremy Guthrie bashing going on already this season, and I'm not sure I understand it. I get that he had a brutal year in 2009. I know that he's 0-4 with a 4.78 ERA after six starts and those aren't numbers befitting a perceived No. 2 starter. I understand that he still has a maddening habit of having lapses at the most inopportune times. Yes, giving up a three-run homer to Randy Winn on Monday night would qualify.
But what I have seen so far this season is a significantly improved pitcher from last year who is still making a few mistakes, competes his butt off, and has been let down consistently by his offense and occasionally by his defense.
In his six starts, the Orioles' offense has scored a total of nine runs while he has been in the game. In the games Guthrie has pitched, the Orioles have lost 4-3, 5-1, 4-3, 4-3, 8-3 and 4-1. Aside from that fifth start against the New York Yankees, he has given his team a chance to win every time out. Overall, he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in four of his six starts, and those six starts have come against the Tampa Bay Rays twice, the Oakland Athletics once, the Boston Red Sox once and the Yankees twice.
He has also had gone head-to head with Matt Garza twice, Justin Duchscherer, Jon Lester and CC Sabathia twice, matchups that give the pitcher an even smaller margin for error.
Behind him, Ty Wigginton failed to turn a potential inning-ending double play on Jorge Posada's hard one-hopper on Monday in the Yankees' decisive four-run fourth inning. In his previous start against the Yankees, Lou Montanez made an error and Garrett Atkins didn't get a good jump on a ball down the first base line. And in his April 23 start at Boston, Atkins didn't recognize that he had a play at home at one point, and that cost Guthrie a run.
Please don't misunderstand. I'm not starting a Jeremy Guthrie Cy Young Award or All-Star campaign. I'm not saying I wouldn't trade him later this year when the starting-pitching market starts to come into focus -- because I'd strongly consider it. And I understand he can be frustrating to watch and is a little enigmatic.
But what I am saying is that under extremely difficult circumstances, he has pitched far better than he is given credit for, and his form is one of the few positives from the Orioles' awful start, regardless of what his record says.
And catcher Matt Wieters agrees with me.
"If he keeps throwing the ball like that and against a lineup that's as good as [the Yankees'] lineup, he's going to be back on track to where he was before the last outing," Wieters said. "I think his stuff is a lot better this year. It's more movement, and his location has even gotten better from the different arm slot he's got."
-- Jeff Zrebiec