If you were watching or listening to yesterday’s game you may have been surprised by the pitcher on the mound in the 8th and 9th inning for the Phillies. Brandon Erbe is another is a line of former Orioles that Joe Jordan has brought over to the Phillies. Erbe on the surface appears to be roster filler, but he is a former top starting pitching prospect who is still young enough (25) to be impactful out of a bullpen.
How We Got Here:
Erbe was a 3rd round pick in 2005 out of high school by the Orioles. He had an ok debut in 2005 but broke out in 2006. At age 18 in low-A Erbe put up a 3.22 ERA, 47BB, 133 K line in only 114.2 IP (10.44 K/9 at age 18 in lo-A). He was then rated the #2 propsect in the Orioles system and the #78 player in baseball. Erbe had a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, and an improving change up. Starting in 2007 it went downhill as Erbe battled control and injury problems (still put up a 2.99 BB/9, 9.02 K/9 line in 2008 at age 20 in hi-A over 150.2 IP). Injuries have really derailed his career and he hasn’t pitched much the last two years. Erbe’s starting career at this point is over, but the Phillies still signed him to a minor league contract when he hit minor league free agency this year.
Erbe out of the bullpen sits around 93-95, the slider that once was plus has fallen apart, and the changeup is almost non-existent. As a starter Erbe had real control problems (which appeared in his short 2012 season) and he pitched up in the zone allowing a very high homerun rate. The live arm does give Erbe a chance out of the bullpen to still have a major league career.
Where Do We Go From Here:
With the AAA and AA bullpens stacked with arms Erbe will like start in Clearwater where the Phillies will see if they can get him to harness the fastball. There is no guarantee that Erbe does anything for the Phillies but he has a chance to get himself into a crowded bullpen pitcture much like Justin Friend did in 2011.