Four years ago, I purchased and Erik Bedard jersey with much excitement. I had been against the deal that sent five prospects, including OF Adam Jones, to the Orioles for Bedard, but I was still very excited to see a left-handed pitcher with who averaged a robust 10.93 K/9 and a stingy 2.82 BB/9. Bedard looked like he was on the cusp of becoming a superstar, and while we weren’t going to have those young players, we were at least getting a bonafide ace.
We all know what happened next, so I don’t feel the need to re-hash it. For once, with Erik Bedard, we can talk about what he is doing instead of what he could do, or what he’s done in the past. And that’s probably because, somehow, Erik Bedard has been a steady rock in the Mariners’ rotation this year.
Bedard is averaging nearly six innings per outing this year, which would be a Mariner best for him, and that includes starts of 5, 4, 4.2, and 5 innings to start the season. Since these four starts, Bedard has gone 6 innings or more in 8 of his last 10 starts. His ability to get deep into games is certainly improving. His 83 innings pitched tie his Mariner best, but in one less start than before.
One major reason for this could be his career-low walk rate of 2.71 BB/9. Bedard’s previous walk rates with the Mariners were 4.11 and 3.69 respectively, so it would make sense that the same amount of pitches would go further into games when less of them are balls. Bedard walked 11 batters in April, but then has walked only 14 since then.
Interestingly, Bedard’s career walk rate is just 3.48, so his first two years in Seattle represented downgrades of his skills in that regard. Of course, Bedard did have two shoulder injuries, which are typically associated with command.
While his strikeouts seemed to vanish in April, Bedard has really turned things around in that regard since then. He posted a mere 20 strikeouts in his 25.2 April innings, but has followed with 60 punchouts in 57.1 innings since the calendar flipped to May, good for an ace-like 9.4 K/9.
Since a disasterous start in April, Bedard has performed like one of the best pitchers in baseball. His 3.38 FIP and 3.16 xFIP are second only to his epic 2007 season in Baltimore. All of that has given him 1.5 WAR, 4th best in the Mariners rotation behind Felix, Pineda, and Fister. Erik Bedard is posting all-star quality numbers, and he’s the Mariners’ fourth best starting pitcher so far in 2011. Now might be a good time for Jack Zduriencik to start asking Erik if he’d like to spend another two years in Seattle.