Berken finds his niche in Baltimore 'pen

Berken finds his niche in Baltimore 'pen

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' bullpen has been both a problem and a disappointment this season. But it's also where the team has found one its most pleasant surprises.

Baltimore moved Jason Berken to the bullpen this year, and the right-hander has been arguably the team's best relief pitcher. He's 0-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 18 games and is now being used at the back end of the bullpen.

Berken has been a starter throughout his Minor League career and made 24 starts in 2009, posting a 6-12 record with a 6.54 ERA. He lost nine in a row at one point and gave up 19 homers in 119 2/3 innings, but he started to find his way toward the end, winning four of his last five decisions.

But the Orioles decided to try him in the bullpen. He's done both long and short work and had given up only eight runs in 31 2/3 innings entering Sunday's action. He's struck out 20 while walking only eight to give the Orioles a boost.

"The biggest thing for me is trying to be more consistent than I was last year, Berken said. "Last year was too many ups and downs. The good ones are the ones that are able to do it every day and able to be consistent every time out there."

Berken threw a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Mets.

"The biggest difference that I've noticed is as a starter you have your five-day routine ... where as a reliever, you come to the park every day, and you have a chance to pitch," Berken said. "That has been a nice change for me. You could be in there any time."