If you've been with me since last summer, you're no doubt rolling your eyes right now. Yes, I am the president, treasurer, and perhaps by now the last remaining member of the Jason Bergmann fan club.
I'm not blind to his shortcomings. He's an extreme flyball pitcher who gets just enough strikeouts to survive with a flyball rate on batted balls near 50%. For any pitcher, that's dangerous territory, but for a team that plans on starting Adam Dunn and Lastings Milledge in two outfield spots, that just won't do. And he gets killed by lefties. For his career, lefties hit .869 OPS against him, while righties hit just .735. That means the average lefty against Bergmann hits like Geovany Soto, while the average righty is somewhere between Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kosuke Fukudome.
The reason I root for Jay is because a) he's clearly among the 150 best starting pitchers in baseball, and I don't for one minute believe that he hasn't been among our best five over the last 2-3 years, and b) I hated the way the team yanked him around from role to role, into the rotation, back to the 'pen, and back and forth to AAA at the first signs of trouble. Bowden's handling of Bergmann always struck me as the pitcher version of Ryan Church, and like with Church I always wished he'd just leave him in the rotation and leave him alone. If he had, I'm convinced Bergmann would be going for his third straight season of 160-170 IP with a near league-average ERA. And then c) he's a really nice guy and really hard not to root for.
But by the start of spring training this year, I'd come around to the idea that given his extreme platoon splits the best use for him would be to put him in the pen and use him in 1-2 inning stints when he can match up with mostly righties. Especially with the outfield defense, and guys like Collin Balester, Jordan Zimmermann, and Garrett Mock knocking on the door, I figured it was time to give the other guys a look.
Since then, options for the rotation have fallen away one at a time. Shawn Hill, even if everything goes perfectly for him from here on out, probably won't be ready for starts by opening day. Balester has given up eight earned runs and probably worse yet six walks in 11 IP. Mock's spring ERA of 5.14 has been falling, but probably isn't good enough to merit a spot in the rotation for a guy who was on the long shot to begin with. Granted, both Flash Jordan and the Wowin' Curocaoan have pitched well, and they could join Lannan, Olsen and Cabrera in the starting five. But then again, do you really want to throw two rookies into the fire right away and risk an potentially dangerous innings jump?
If it's none of the guys mentioned so far, then we're looking at scraping the trash heap of Gustavo Chacin or Kip Wells, and without a question in my mind Bergmann is better than them.
So I ask again--given all this, why isn't Bergmann considered even an option?