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Why We Love Erik Bedard Pitching the Pirates Opener Against Phillies

Bedarded via Pittsburgh Pirates Urban Dictionary

The Pittsburgh Pirates will open up the 2012 season in less than two weeks.  Since the season began, we have had a pitcher that we were hoping would get the opening day nod for the Bucs.

You probably have someone you were rooting for too.  That’s cool.  We considered Karstens, but then reconsidered.  We wanted to see Bedard.  Even after A.J. Burnett rolled into Pirate City, we wanted Bedard.

Here’s why.

1.  Similar to the Pirates franchise, Bedard was once on the top of the mountain.  He was in the bigs in 2002 and by 2007, he was carving out a name for himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.  Anyone that can play in that city deserves some credit in our book.  Bedard did so well, he finished fifth in the Cy Young balloting due to his performance in his 28 starts.  He threw 182 innings and striking out nearly eleven (10.9) batters per nine innings while allowing just seven hits.

Just for perspective, A.J. Burnett has never touched those strikeout numbers, he topped out at 9.6 in 2007.  He also has never matched the 146 ERA+ Bedard posted either.   A 122 is the career high from 2002 for Burnett. 

2. The simple explanation for making the decision to select Bedard would be that he is left handed.  PNC Park was built for left handers.

3.  Bedard is Dr. Andrews poster boy.  He’s been hurt a ton.  If you have ever had a sports injury, you know the feeling.  No matter how much talent you have, the injury erases the ability you possess. It takes everything you have to get back to where you were–often times it’s impossible.

But Bedard hasn’t had just one injury, it’s been a laundry list, some of which we won’t even mention because they aren’t as severe as these. (That doesn’t mean the knee brace doesn’t scare the shit out of us)

Erik Bedard wore a knee brace on his left knee when we observed him at Pirates City.

Way back when he had Tommy John on his left elbow.  In 2008, Bedard had work done on his shoulder to remove a cyst.  The next year, Bedard suffered a torn labrum.  It was repaired.  In 2010, doctors went back in to (warning) shave down a bone spur.  We imagine there was some grinding involved in that procedure.  Oh, and after that happened the Doc fixed his labrum once again.

And each year Bedard has come back to the diamond and given it another go.  Last year with the Mariners, Bedard was one of the key starters that kept the team in the mix despite a very poor offensive team.  (Maybe that’s what the Pirates are up to this season?)

4. The Pirates have rarely shown up in the second half of baseball seasons.  It’s a pretty well known joke around town.  Bedard knows that feeling.  During the years of 2008, 2009, and 2010 Bedard made just two starts in the second half of those seasons.  During some of those Pirates seasons, we wish we could say that was the amount of games we watched.

5. The bottom line is it took some balls by the Pirates brass to sign the left hander.

It also took some faith on the part of Bedard that after he had his most successful season in years, he signed with the Pirates.  Sure the Bucs gave him $4.5 million reasons to sign, but that doesn’t appeal to everyone.  There were a few pitchers on the market this offseason who spurned Pirates offers of big paydays.

But back to the risk,  one can only imagine the articles that will be written if Bedard puts up his 15.33 starts per season he averaged during his past three years with Seattle.  Bedard made 15  starts with the Mariners last season before he suffered a knee injury.  He returned for his 16th start which was a showcase event for MLB scouts.  The Red Sox were the winners in the Bedard Sweepstakes and the lefty made eight starts for the chicken and beer loving Boston Red Sox as they fell apart down the stretch.  Bedard didn’t help matters much either.

6. Rewards don’t come without taking risk.  The risk the Pirates took this offseason with the Bedard signing was big.  We would say the Pirates haven’t had much luck with high risk/high reward players and at $4.5 mil Bedard would definently be the highest risk player this front office has signed.

7. Bedard can still make batters swing and miss.  He put up 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings last season.  Dust off the K’s!  The Kenametal sign might actually get some use this season!

8. So there it is.  Our long winded explanation why we are happy Bedard will be headed to the bump in front of a sold out PNC Park for the opener.

It would surely be a very long way back for both the Pirates and Bedard should 2012 turn out as we all trust it will.  But nevertheless, if all goes well the Thursday after next when the Philthians invade, it will make  for a nice opening chapter for the Bucs 2012 season.

A player and a franchise back on the winning track.  How do I get a ticket to that?

 

Topics: Erik Bedard, Pittsburgh Pirates

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