Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman’s days are numbered

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: Chris Tillman
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: Chris Tillman /

During the offseason, the Baltimore Orioles thought they saw something different from Chris Tillman. His first three starts of the season though, have eerily resembled his 2017 campaign.

The Baltimore Orioles find themselves in a real dilemma when it comes to former 16-game winner, Chris Tillman. After three poor starts to the season, it’s becoming quite evident that he may not have the ability to be a starting pitcher any longer.

With his poor performance so far this season, maybe having all three of his starts on the road isn’t a bad thing. At least, when it comes to not hearing his home fans boo him off the field. That feels inevitable with the assumed, “short leash,” he’s working with.

Having given up four runs in Houston, five runs in New York and six runs in Boston, his ERA has ballooned to 11.91. In his shortest outing of the year against the Red Sox, he pitched two innings, giving up seven hits and walking two. A three-run homer from Eduardo Nunez started the unraveling process.

Now, Chris Tillman, one of the integral parts of the Orioles’ return to postseason play, could find himself on the outside of the starting rotation.

So what can the Orioles do with him?

One, they can move him from the rotation, into the bullpen. Entering play Friday night, relievers had thrown 55 innings, pitching to an ERA of 4.42. The Norfolk shuttle has been activated multiple times over the past few days. But, the shuttle is activated to provide a fresh arm or two and right now, Chris Tillman doesn’t exactly provide that option.

Two, they can designate him for assignment. Chris Tillman, as mentioned already, is a former 16-game winner. From 2012 through 2016, he posted an ERA of 3.81 in 143 starts. His record during that time frame was 65-33 and while win-loss record shouldn’t be a defining stat for pitchers, a win differential of +32 is pretty good.

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Once a player is designated for assignment – or DFA for short – he has to clear waivers in order to be outrighted to the minor leagues. I’m not sold on Tillman not being claimed by a team somewhere out there. Someone would take a chance.

Finally, they can keep him in the rotation and give him a few more starts. This may be unpopular, however, something is there and the Orioles saw it in January.

Chris Tillman knows he has to be better in order to stay in the rotation. In regards to what he does moving forward to better himself, he said,

"“Get ahead. It sound simple but you have to get ahead against these guys. That’s pitching in general. Any team you have to get ahead but especially this one.”"

Next: Will Chris Davis break out in Boston?

In his career, Chris Tillman has been a valuable asset for the Orioles. However, time marches on and players regress. In his case, if he wants to remain in the rotation and help the team, serious progress needs to made.