Friday, April 24, 2009

Eaton some crow

I’ve been a very vocal detractor of Adam Eaton and his being on the Orioles. I feel like he’s no better than Chris Waters or David Pauley at this stage in his career. Eaton hasn’t had an ERA below 5 since 2005. And even though he’s only 31, it seems like his best years are behind him.

Then he went out last night and pitched a gem in a 6-2 win over the White Sox.

7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB and 9 K.

In his two previous starts, Eaton hadn’t gotten out of the 5th inning because of high pitch counts -- not to mention being shelled -- allowing a total of 10 ER in 8 IP. He had walked 4 batters and seemed to not know where his pitches were going.

That all changed last night.

And while Eaton’s fastball barely topped out at 90 MPH, he kept White Sox hitters off balance all night, including whiffing Jim Thome 3 times. If Eaton didn’t have much velocity on his pitches, he must have had a ton of movement on them to earn 9 K against a powerful and experienced White Sox line-up.

Going forward, I wouldn’t expect too many starts like this from Eaton. It seems like everything came together for him for one magical night. But... his strikeout totals (19 K in 15.1 IP) are a big positive. Even in 8 horrible innings before last night, he’d struck out 10 batters. So even when nothing else was working for him, he was still able to rack up some K’s. And Eaton is not a strikeout pitcher, so his ability to strike batters out at a 11 K/per 9 IP is very interesting -- and encouraging.

So, what does that tell us?

It tells us that Eaton may not be the human shield of a pitcher we all thought he was. Eaton is still the first or second pitcher to go once Troy Patton or Chris Tillman is ready to be called up. But if he can have just half the stuff he had last night going forward, he can be a useful stop-gap until the kids are ready while keeping the Orioles in most games in the meantime.


Ty Wigginton finally collected his first extra-base hit last night as well as an RBI... Felix Pie collected two hits, both singles, and even went to opposite field for one of them. He continues to look hot and cold at the plate.

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