The Baltimore Orioles seemed to be comfortable with re-signing starting pitcher Chris Tillman after seeing him return to good health and throwing strong bullpens.
However, that strong bullpen work didn’t convert to on-mound success in his first spring training outing on Tuesday, where he allowed four runs in two innings of work against the Minnesota Twins. When Baltimore brought Tillman back on a one-year, $3 million deal in February, they expected to see pitcher that would fill the fourth spot in the rotation.
Tillman had an abysmal 2017; a season that was riddled by injury and ineffectiveness. He had a record of 1-7, with an ERA of 7.84 and a WHIP of 1.892 in 93 innings pitched. Obviously, that is quite uncharacteristic of the 29-year old Tillman, who had an ERA of 3.81 and WHIP of 1.253 from 2012-2016.
It could just be a knee-jerk reaction, but the Orioles surely look like they need another starting pitcher.
Tillman isn’t the only question mark in their rotation. Dylan Bundy (13-9 record, 4.24 ERA in 2017) and Kevin Gausman (11-12, 4.68) had spurts of looking really dominant in 2017 and crashed back down to earth. Andrew Cashner (11-11, 3.40) was good last season, but had his highest ERA of his career in 2016 (5.25).
Remember how I said that Baltimore only has four starters currently? Miguel Castro, Nestor Cortes and Mike Wright are all competing for the final role in the starting rotation. None of them have seen success in the MLB as starters and Cortes hasn’t pitched in the majors at all.
Baltimore has also seen the signings of Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs), Lance Lynn (Minnesota Twins), Jake Arrieta (Philadelphia Phillies) and other pitchers, while they have stood idle. The club was even rumored to be interested in the latter two pitchers and kept in contact with them.
With that being said, the Orioles still could add a starter who has had success at the major league level and has even pitched in the AL East. His name is Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66) and it seems as if his name has come up as a possible signing all off-season. Cobb has a career ERA of 3.50 and WHIP of 1.221. Teams may be cautious of signing Cobb to a deal because of his injury history, missing all of the 2015 season and the majority of 2016.
However, he still would greatly improve Baltimore’s rotation, sliding Tillman to the fifth starter’s role. If Bundy, Gausman, Cashner or Cobb are slotted in the fourth or third starter’s role, that is a great problem to have for Baltimore. Not to mention, if Wright and Castro are utilized out of the bullpen, it could prove to be a better setting for the two, with Castro already having success as a major league reliever.
Cobb still remains unsigned and the Orioles have been in contact with his camp as well. One thing that they haven’t done is to have gotten him to put pen to paper. They could use his stability immediately and they don’t have much time to waste.
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