The last time Russ Ortiz had a good season in the major leagues was all the way back in 2004 with the Braves. So it should not come as much of a surprise that only 4 starts into the 2009 Russ Ortiz experience in Houston, the Astros have moved Ortiz out of the rotation and into the bullpen. So far this season, Ortiz has a 5.82 ERA as a starter with a horrid 1.882 WHIP. Even with the Astros limited pitching depth, this move was obvious.
With that said, Russ Ortiz is not happy about the move.
“He’s not totally happy, but that’s to be expected from a veteran guy,” Cooper said. “He’s going to go do some things in the pen and try and earn a spot back.”
First of all, Ortiz should be thrilled just to have a job right now; he has performed very poorly so far and is a shell of his former self on the mound.
It comes down to this: can Ortiz actually win a spot back? No.
Here's why: This season, Ortiz has struggled massively the first time through the order as hitters in the first inning are hitting .471 against him. Furthermore, during innings 1-3, hitters are still teeing off against Ortiz to the tune of a cool .333 BAA. It's not until the second time through the order until Ortiz settles down.
The likelihood of Russ Ortiz finding success in the bullpen pitching only an inning or two is very unlikely given his performance so far this season. Can Ortiz develop into a successful long relief pitcher? That remains to be seen.
But make no mistake about it, there is no upside to having Ortiz on the roster right now for the Astros and if they had any pitching depth at all, I'm sure Ortiz would have been given the boot by now. Under no circumstances should Ortiz start another game for the Astros this season.