Jeremy Guthrie: The Unconventional Leader

The O's opening day starter hopes to kickoff a successful 2011 season on Friday

Following the 2009 season, Guthrie had a lot to prove. After finishing second in the most homeruns given up and the third most earned runs in MLB, many fans in Baltimore questioned whether Guthrie was good enough for the rotation in 2010. Guthrie responded by pitching over 200 innings for the first time in his career, lowered his walks and maintains an earned run average of less than 4. Since 2008 Jeremy Guthrie has been the anchor of the Baltimore Orioles rotation, some would even argue that he was the leader in 2007 with Erik Bedard's frequent injuries forcing the Orioles to find a new leader that willing to step up and take the reins of the rotation.

While Guthrie is not a flashy pitcher or even a true ace in the sense of the word, he does possess the work horse consistency make up that most teams would love to have in the middle of their rotation. Aside from Guthrie's disastrous 2009 season after he pitched in the World Baseball Classic, setting him back early in the season, Guthrie has been a model of consistency. Guthrie has averaged 200 innings per season since 2008 and has started at least 30 games as well for each season that he has pitched.

Aside from Justin Duchscherer, who is slated to start the 2011 season on the DL, Guthrie will once again take the reins as the most experienced Major League pitcher in the Orioles rotation. When Guthrie first became the leader in 2008 he was noticeably nervous but welcomed the opportunity, especially when he was named as Opening Day starter for the first time.

“It's a great honor to have the confidence of Trembley,” Guthrie stated in 2008. “I felt the same from my team, from my teammates-- that they feel if I'm out there, we have a chance to win.”

After being named the 2011 Opening Day starter Guthrie shows his leadership by not only accepting the honor but also set up goals as well. After reaching the 200 innings mark in 2009 and 2010, Guthrie wants to ensure that he not only reaches 200 innings but also lessen the workload for his fellow fielders as well.

"That's my ultimate goal," Guthrie said. "I don't set a number on wins or any other stat. But I do want to make all my starts. I want to get as deep as I can into the games, and that comes from being aggressive and throwing strikes. Those will be my only two goals this season."

Whether or not Jeremy Guthrie is able to break his own record for the most strikeouts in a season, the one thing that is for certain is that Guthrie does not back down from a challenge to improve not only himself but also the team as a whole. For some pitchers that could mean too much pressure for someone who was suddenly the ace of a pitching staff after his rookie season. Guthrie has taken his leadership with poise even when there have been times that anyone else would or could blame others for their misfortune. Last season the Orioles were able to take some of the pressure off of Guthrie after trading reliever Chris Ray to the Texas Rangers for Kevin Millwood. This allowed Guthrie to focus on bouncing back from his 2009 form and once again be a leader for the Orioles pitching staff. Kevin Millwood had become well known for not gaining any run support from the hitters on the team and unfortunately Guthrie suffered the same fate as some of his losses came after pitching 6 innings and given up 3 runs earned or not. During the 2010 season, Guthrie also collected seven no decisions that included 5 games in which he pitched at least 6 innings and gave up less than 3 runs. Not once did he blame the hitters on the team because he knows that the only stats that matters are ones that holds him the most accountable: pitching deep and getting the outs without giving up runs. This season he should get more run support with additions to the lineup Lee, Guerrero, Hardy and Reynolds and the return of favorites Markakis, Roberts and Jones.

As Guthrie once again has been named the Opening Day starter for the 2011 season, he welcomes the chance to lead the Orioles in what could be the biggest turnaround in the history of the organization. This season he won't have another veteran to help take pressure off of him. Aside from Guthrie, the rotation staff will be consisted of mostly young pitchers that are on average 24 years old. This does not include 23 year old Zach Britton who could see some playing time this season as early as end of April. The Orioles will need Guthrie more than ever to give leadership and be a veteran even though he only has two more full seasons than the next veteran starter. With Buck Showalter leading the Orioles into the 2011 season, Jeremy Guthrie is ready to take the leadership role once again and without hesitation lead the Orioles into what should be the most exciting season since 1997.

2011 PREDICTION: 14 wins-11 losses; 4:05 ERA

Inside The Os Top Stories