If Erik Bedard wants to make one last splash in the bigs, 2013 might be it.
This is, after all, a 34-year old former ace (10.4 fWAR between 2006-2007) whose career has been derailed so significantly by injuries, so much so that his value had been reduced to that of a minor-league deal … with the Houston Astros.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel to redemption, however. Being part of the Astros organization afforded Bedard the opportunity to win a starting job out of Spring Training due to the team’s sheer lack of options, and that’s exactly what the nine-year veteran has done, according to team GM Jeff Luhnow:
Luhnow said Erik Bedard expected to make team and be a starter.
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronAstros) March 25, 2013
Sure, it’d be easy to just go on and talk about the deficiencies of this rotation, but for Bedard, this means a little more than just beating out a minor leaguer for a big-league job.
It’s a chance to show the league that he can be healthy, and to make sure there’s at least another make-good deal in his future like the one he signed for $4.5 million prior to the 2012 season. Falling further from the winning-a-job-from-a-minor-league-contract stage might just mean the end of the 34-year old’s playing days.
That said, staying off the DL has obviously been difficult for Bedard over his career, and it was no surprise earlier this spring when he ended up being sidelined from a strained gluteal muscle.
As it had been in the past, however, it’s what he’s done when he’s been healthy enough to step on the mound that keeps Bedard hanging around in the bigs. In this case, it’s his six innings of stellar work thus far, including his March 17 outing against the Toronto Blue Jays that saw the lefty allow no runs and one hit through three innings, while striking out five.
Now, he’s intrigued the Astros enough to see if some of that could translate into the regular season.
No, he won’t be a part of the team’s long-term plans, and the odds of him throwing more than 170 innings in 2013 seem rather slim, but this particularly partnership might just work out between the two if Bedard can stay on the mound long enough to regain some of his old form.
Though he’ll likely never be a 4.0+ fWAR pitcher again, he did post a good 8.45 K/9 over 125.2 innings with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, and his 0.94 ERA-FIP suggests that he could be better.
At least, the Astros are certainly hoping so, as a solid first half from Bedard might make him a valuable trade chip for the rebuilding franchise.
For Bedard, being wanted by a team other than the rebuilding Astros — especially if it happens to be a contender — would be a redemptive victory in itself, wouldn’t it?