Thursday, April 14, 2011

End of the Line?

Chris Tillman got shelled. No, he got shellacked last night in the Bronx.

There's no other way around what the Orioles might have to start considering. Tillman, once considered the Orioles top pitching prospect, may not have the stuff to be a big league rotation member. He was knocked out of last nights game in the second inning after giving up six earned runs on nine hits.

When your fastball sits between 86-89 MPH, you better have some great off speed pitches or terrific "out" pitches if you want to survive. Unfortunately for Tillman, he has no success using anything other than the fastball that he can't command for strikes. He keeps the ball belt high and above, which is no way to make a living in the show.

The Orioles appeared to have lost patience with Tillman last season when his velocity started dipping and his command got worse. However, with Brian Matusz and Justin Duchscherer on the DL, there aren't too many other options for the club.

Tillman going back to triple-A ball may be a waste of time, too. He has thoroughly dominated that level and has shown he is too good to be in the minor leagues. It would be hard to put him in the bullpen because he doesn't throw hard enough to be a bullpen arm.

The question is simple: Can the Orioles continue to run Tillman out to the mound every fifth day knowing they are probably going to put themselves in an early hole and their bullpen will get taxed?

My take:

Yes, the Orioles will continue to run him out there until a better option exists. Tillman is only 23 and has been considered a bright prospect for the past four years. Teams rarely give up on their top pitchers until all avenues are exhausted with them. It is getting very difficult for fans and the organization to continue watching him though. They say organizations hit on about 40-50% of their pitching prospects; well, it appears they missed on Tillman.

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