Jorge Campillo says 'Hi.'
Horacio Ramirez has made sure that discussions about the M's 5th rotation spot are fairly common. Ryan Feierabend hasn't exactly excelled in that role, and while many fans have talked about bringing Robert Rohrbaugh up, many M's insiders (incl. USS Mariner) have cautioned that his stuff simply isn't MLB quality.
The forgotten man in a lot of these discussions is Jorge Campillo. Well, Jorge's doing what he can to make sure his name is included in the never-ending list of guys who could do better than HoRam. With 7 scoreless innings today, Campillo dropped his RA to 3.4 - and he didn't have his best stuff. Despite missing consistently with his change, and despite lowering his WHIP to peg Lou Merloni (yes, it was on purpose), Campillo consistently got out of trouble by getting the first man, and by limiting the extra-base hit. Campillo has pretty sizeable home/road splits, so I should caution that how he's looked in Tacoma is not necessarily how he's looked away, but hey - Tacoma's a decent proxy for Safeco. And let's cut to the chase: I'm much more comfortable with the M's giving Jorge a shot than paying $20 million to give an aged Jose Contreras a shot. Do you need a back-up plan? Of course. But Campillo is pitching his way into this conversation, despite long odds after his injury and removal from the 40 man roster (thankfully, the 40 man roster isn't really a concern with a couple open spots, and with the rosters expanding soon).
The knock on Campillo has been his, well, Rohrbaugh-level stuff. And it's true; he generally doesn't get tons of strike-outs. But if you've followed Cha Seung Baek (or Carlos Silva), you know that there's a place at the back of an MLB rotation for a guy who severely limits walks. Campillo's been quite stingy with the free pass at home (1.41/9 coming into today), and compensates for his lack of an outpitch to righties by going for the strikeout more against lefty hitters. I think his weird reverse-platoon splits (at least as far as strikeouts go) is one of the reasons people underrate him. It's easy to say it's a statistical fluke, but he's K'd more lefties every single year he's been in the US. At some point, you've got to say it's part of his arsenal, or at least his approach, to go for the K against lefties and to put it in play against righties.
Jose De La Cruz (AKA the Aircraft Carrier) made things interesting by giving up 2 runs in the last 2 innings, and putting the tying run on 3rd in the 9th, but he induced the game ending pop-out from Nick Blasi and picked up the save. Campillo struck out 7 in 7 innings, to go with 3 BBs and just 4 hits.