Bergesen Developing Into Baltimore's Ace

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Brad Bergesen #64 of the Baltimore Orioles poses during photo day at the Orioles spring training complex on February 23, 2009 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

One key element to the ace of a baseball team's staff is his ability to end a losing streak.  That is exactly what Brad Bergesen was able to accomplish for the Orioles Tuesday night in Baltimore's 3-1 win over the Mariners.

The 23 year-old righty from Fairfield, California has been the team's most consistent pitcher as of late.  He pitched into the 8th inning for the second time in his last three starts, shutting out the M's while scattering five hits and striking out six, walking none.  The performance was precisely what the Orioles needed in their return to Camden Yards after dropping their last five games on the road.

MASN's Buck Martinez credits his dramatic improvement as of late to the introduction of a new pitch:

There has been a dramatic improvement in his outings since Rick Kranitz gave him a new toy, a curve ball.

The breaking ball isn't as dramatic as Rich Hill's, but it changes the plane of his pitches and gives hitters another dimension to deal with.

Bergesen has always been a strike thrower and a three-pitch guy who could pound the strike zone to get ground balls, almost at will. But the savvy pitching coach knew there would be a need for a breaking ball with more depth to it for Brad to be a successful big league starter.

The other difference in Bergesen's last three starts is the target he's throwing the ball to.  Matt Wieters, the top prospect in all of baseball as designated by Baseball America, was recalled in late May.  While he hasn't lit it up at the plate so far, Wieters has helped out the pitching staff because of his familiarity with the youngsters in the minor leagues.

Andy MacPhail, the Orioles President of Baseball Operations, has made the decision to build this team around young pitching.  With that in mind it's critical that they find some success early on when given a taste of the big leagues.  While he still has a way to go to be consistently viewed as a top of the rotation pitcher, Bergesen is doing what a lot of young players have trouble doing, throwing strikes.  He's pitching to his defense, allowing him to get ahead of counts and pitch late into games.

The Orioles still have some of their more highly touted pitching prospects developing in the minor leagues, but Brad Bergesen is making a case for himself to be included among the list of ones with the brightest futures ahead of them.