There is no doubt that Jeremy Guthrie has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher in the major leagues. We watched it last year when he gave up less than four runs a game but couldn't seem to inspire the offense to give him any run support. In fact, 2008 saw Guthrie put up career numbers in ERA and innings pitched (something the O's bullpen could always use help with), and come within just a couple of strikeouts of his career high. He has pitched opening day for the Orioles the past two seasons because he has become a reliable starter within a very unreliable staff.
This season, however, Guthrie has seen his fair share of problems. He hasn't been the ace of the staff that Orioles' fans have been lead to believe his is (whether or not he really is is still a question to be answered). His ERA has skyrocketed to over five runs a game and his walks are treading on pace to set new career highs. The biggest lowlight of them all is the number of moonshots he has given up this season. In 30 starts last year, Guthrie only allowed 24 homeruns, an average number by a major league starter on any team. However, this season, in 13 starts, Guthrie has already eclipsed the halfway point of last season's number; 16 balls have left the park due to Guthrie's insuficiant control. With only 47 strikeouts, he is no where close to the numbers we have become used to in the past two seasons.
While the Orioles develop a stockpile of young pitching talent in the minor leagues, Guthrie needs to take notice. That pitching talent is beginning to make it's way to the majors in the likes of Brad Bergesen and Jason Berkin. Chris Tillman, Troy Patton, and Jake Arrieta are not far behind which becomes a suretell sign that Guthrie needs to find his A game in order to maintain a solid position on the team's roster. While it doesn't look like much now, his underperformance may come back to haunt him in the very near future.