Brando Tessar posted his second straight gem on Monday. The senior Oregon baseball pitcher threw seven scoreless innings in the Ducks’ 4-3 win over San Diego, just like he did against Portland last Wednesday.
In each start, he appeared in more innings than all of last season.
“I’ve been hurt for the last two years and the rehab process has been pretty long, going through its ups and downs,” Tessar said after Monday’s game.
Arm injuries sidelined the right-hander for the majority of the 2013 season, limiting him to 6.2 innnings, four appearances and two brief starts. In 2012, he made just 11 appearances due to a muscle strain, making his last of nine starts on April 15. He appeared in one more game, which happened to be Oregon’s last of the season.
Now, almost exactly a year after his 2013 season was cut short, Tessar’s 2014 campaign might not have even reached its apex. He’s made five straight starts and has been clearly excellent his last two. If he keeps pitching this way, head coach George Horton may have no choice but to give him the third weekend rotation spot, something the Ducks desperately need to shore up.
“I’d say Brando is yelling at us that he belongs there,” Horton said. “Instead of being in my office, he’s doing it on the field.”
Tessar’s emergence is especially important because the Ducks are without arguably their top two starters. Left-hander Cole Irvin is lost for the season and fellow lefty Matt Krook might soon join him. Tommy Thorpe and Jeff Gold have pitched well, but the other starters that have taken turns in the rotation are inconsistent, unproven or both.
Trent Paddon started his first game as a Duck on Sunday, going four innings and giving up three earned runs. Porter Clayton and Jordan Spencer have both made three starts, with similar results to Paddon’s each time out.
Tessar might not be the answer, of course. His five starts haven’t come against the greatest competition and before last Wednesday, he struggled as much as Paddon, Clayton and Spencer in a starting role.
But over the course of the season, Tessar’s been excellent. He’s posted a 2.73 earned-run average, struck out 25 batters and walked just two in 29.2 innings. Plus, he’s proven the ability to go deep into games, something only the rocks of the rotation (Thorpe, Gold and Krook) have done this season. Tessar doesn’t have to throw seven shutout innings every time out to be valuable, but if he can approach that output, the Ducks have a great chance of making a postseason run.
On a personal level, Tessar is happy simply to be injury-free. Consistent greatness would be gravy to him.
“It’s just good to be on the mound,” Tessar said.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415