Due to shoulder tendinitis, Brandon Erbe pitched only 73.0 innings with Bowie last season (13.2 with Aberdeen). The Orioles now face a tough dilemma on whether they should start him at Bowie or Norfolk.
I believe the best option is to start Erbe back at Bowie until he a) shows he is worthy of a callup or b) a spot opens up in the crowded Norfolk rotation. My prediction for the Norfolk rotation is Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, David Hernandez, Jason Berken and Ryohei Tanaka/John Mariotti, meaning there wouldn’t be a spot for Erbe.
Starting back at Bowie would be excellent for Erbe’s development especially if they want him to stick as a starter. Erbe has started at the same level in back to back seasons before when he started and finished at Frederick in 2007 and 2008. He started at Frederick again in 2008 because he struggled there in 2007. If Erbe starts at Bowie this year it would be much different than the last time he started at the same level twice in a row. Erbe has already had success at Bowie and would build on his performance from the season before. Erbe should not only be looking to improve on his performance but he needs to stay healthy.
With Berken, Hernandez, Patton and Arrieta all prime candidates to take a rotation/bullpen spot if one of the Orioles’ starters gets hurt, an opening at Norfolk could come quickly for him. I prefer the Orioles take more conservative approaches with their young pitchers and there is reason Erbe should open the season in a Tides uniform.