Seattle -- yes, this is Mariners Day at Bless You Boys in honor of their losing streak being 5 games longer than Detroit's worst in 2003 -- will send Erik Bedard to the mound on Friday for his first start since a knee injury in June. The Tigers, like several teams, will be watching to see how he does. He's intriguing in that he could be really good -- or he fall to injuries yet again. If he stays healthy, it's a giant boost to whatever team took the risk.
When healthy, the left-handed Bedard was quite effective this year, like he has been in much of his career. He had an ERA of 3.00 -- xFIP of 3.30 and SIERA of 3.23 -- in 15 starts. His strikeout numbers are nice at 8.50 K/9 (23.5% K/PA). His walks were fine at 2.60 BB/9 (7.2% of PA). However, ZiPS does project him to have an ERA in the upper-3s for the rest of the season. Obviously, that's still an upgrade.
However, Bedard is not without risks. He's been on the DL four times with the Mariners since 2008 and started no more than 15 games in 2008 and 2009. In both of those seasons, he didn't pitch past July. He hit the DL with a torn labrum in his shoulder in 2009, and didn't pitch at all in 2010. So honesty, we're in pretty uncharted waters right now. The good news is that the upper half of the body seems to be fine. The bad news is that the lower half is now the issue.
Like Jarrod Washburn in 2009, Bedard's knee is causing problems. Unlike Washburn, the issue wasn't due to growing pain. Bedard hit the disabled list retroactive to June 28 with a sprained left knee. The issue with that is that the left leg is the push-off leg. So you've got to hope the knee is fully recovered and that Bedard does not suffer any pain in the final two months that could render him ineffective.
Bedard has not made any minor league rehab appearances since the injury. He did throw 40 pitches in a simulated game. Friday, he will be on a pitch count as well, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Bedard is not expected to come at a real high price in terms of prospects, due to his injury history and free agency. I think the real risk is in opportunity cost. If you trade for him, you probably aren't going to be trading for a backup plan as well. If he does fall to injury, you'll have to look back at your internal solutions or attempt to make a waiver trade before the end of August.
Suddenly, then, Bedard starts to look like a real intriguing potential addition. An addition with obvious risk, yes, but an addition with game-changing talent. In Bedard, you could have a guy who gets hurt and misses the rest of the year, but you could also have a guy who pitches like an ace for the next two or three months. Bedard was already pitching like an ace for two months before his season was sidetracked by a minor injury, so who knows?
Is it worth it? I don't know. I don't think anyone will know before he's on the mound Friday and without a thorough review of his medicals. Since we're not privy to that part, we'll just have to wait and see.
Are there any front offices out there who're game for such a high-risk/high-reward investment? I'm not sure, but we'll find out soon.
Well, if any will the Tigers would.