July 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Evan Meek (47) pitches against during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Chicago Cubs won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles - The Case for Evan Meek

 

As the Baltimore Orioles approach their final roster selections to begin the 2014 season, there are only a couple of bullpen positions open. With seven total relievers, clearly Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Ryan Webb, Darren O’Day, and Tommy Hunter will get the first five places. And with Josh Stinson out of options and pitching well, he is surely on the team.

So really, it is just one place that is open; and it would appear to come down to a choice between veteran Alfredo Aceves or Evan Meek. Another possibility – Brad Brach – pitched well but has already been optioned to Norfolk.

The case for keeping Evan Meek is strong. He has been a lights-out guy in spring training (stats are before the 3/26 Boston game) …

Year

Tm

Age

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

BF

WHIP

2014 BAL

31

0

0

1.29

6

2

7.0

2

1

1

0

0

5

23

0.286

This article is being posted immediately after Meek just got the save by pitching the bottom of the 9th inning against the Boston Red Sox. He struck out the side – Ryan Dent, Ryan Lavarnway, and Corey Brown – on nine pitches!  Now THAT is the kind of closer I like!  I could become a believer in closers if that continued!  And that performance might just have put him on the team!

Meek was an All-Star with the Pirates in 2010 when he played for Manager John Russell – the current Orioles bench coach. So it was at Russell’s instigation that the Orioles give Meek a look, which was done the same day that the Orioles hosted FanFest. He checked out nicely that day and was given a minor league deal with invite to spring training.

Meek has not pitched in the big leagues since 2012. A torn labrum occurred early in the 2011 season, and Meek pitched through it. The condition, not surprisingly worsened, affecting all the muscles surrounding it. The velocity went down, and the opponents’ results went up.

Meek sought out the famous Dr. James Andrews, and the medical opinion was that the issue was too small for surgery. Instead, he set out upon the long rehab route – a pathway that has not actually found its end until, frankly, this spring. Though he pitched in the minors in the Rangers organization, this season is the first that Meek has felt recovered to the health of 2010. It would be great to see him have 2010-like stats for the Orioles. Here are his career statistics …

Year

Age

Tm

Lg

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

2008

25

PIT NL

0

1

6.92

9

0

13.0

11

11

10

3

12

7

1.769

7.6

2.1

8.3

4.8

0.58

2009

26

PIT NL

1

1

3.45

41

0

47.0

34

18

18

2

29

42

1.340

6.5

0.4

5.6

8.0

1.45

2010

27

PIT NL

5

4

2.14

70

4

80.0

53

25

19

5

31

70

1.050

6.0

0.6

3.5

7.9

2.26

2011

28

PIT NL

1

1

3.48

24

0

20.2

27

11

8

1

12

17

1.887

11.8

0.4

5.2

7.4

1.42

2012

29

PIT NL

0

0

6.75

12

0

12.0

14

9

9

1

6

8

1.667

10.5

0.8

4.5

6.0

1.33

5 Yrs

7

7

3.34

156

4

172.2

139

74

64

12

90

144

1.326

7.2

0.6

4.7

7.5

1.60

 

In an interview with Roch Kubatko two weeks ago, Meek said, “There’s definitely times where I thought about, ‘Man, I wonder if I had just gotten the surgery, if the rehab would have been a much faster process. Feeling good one day and thinking I’m better, and then the next day it just hurt. It didn’t feel right. And that’s just not very comforting, because when you’re on the mound, if you have any kind of doubt about your health or where you’re at, you’re not going to be 100 percent effective and you’re not going to be confident in what you’re doing.”

So, is the soon-to-be 31-year-old back to old form, or just putting together a spring training short-term success? It is realistic to believe the former is true. Meek has credited his success now as replicating his 2010 form due to being sufficiently past the injury enough to recover the arm slot that worked so well previously.

Orioles fans and writers so often snicker about the numberless little signings and recovery projects that Dan Duquette is always picking up like a seagull grabbing crumbs and droppings on Eutaw Street. But this may well prove to be an example of how, even if most don’t work out, those that do can reap significant rewards.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Evan Meek

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