O’s spring training: The 25 who will make it (#17)

March 22, 2010 | Drew Forrester

Time to focus on the starting pitching again and time to do so from the proverbial limb.

I think Chris Tillman is going to come north with the team.

OK, so maybe that’s not quite “out on a limb” stuff, but there is still some rational thought to starting him in Norfolk and giving him 5-10 Triple-A starts before a mid-late May call-up to the O’s.

But that’s not happening.  Tillman will be the team’s 5th starter.

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the start of the season:  90%

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the end of the season:  90%

Odds he’ll be an effective contributor in 2010:  60%

Odds his name will be mentioned at the trade deadline in late July:  10%

Summary:  Tillman isn’t quite as “can’t miss” as Matusz, but he’s probably in the “going to be very difficult to miss” category.  As we saw last season in his 12 starts with the Birds, Tillman can be VERY good when he’s on and still a little rough around the edges when he’s not.  For someone with a very good major league fastball, his strikeout numbers (39) were a little lower than one might expect.  And like most fastball pitchers, he gives up more home runs than you’d prefer.  Last season he surrendered 15 dingers in 65 innings.  That was, by far, his worst statistical category.  Right handed batters hit .341 against him while left handers hit at a .254 clip…those numbers seem odd, as well.  He appears to be an innings-eater kind of guy — last year he pitched into the 6th inning in 7 of his 12 starts.

I always like to explain my numbers in the “odds” category above, particularly when there appears to be something out of whack with the numbers. I listed Tillman at 90% to start the season because I’m thinking there’s a slight chance they’ll come north with 4 starters instead of 5.  However, with no off-day in between their road opening series and the home opening series, I assume they’ll just go with 5 starters from the beginning.  I fully expect Tillman to start the year in Baltimore and finish the year in Baltimore, but what if one of the other hotshot minor leaguers (Britton, Arrieta, etc.) makes it north in mid-season and shines for a month or so.  Could Tillman be part of a July trade deal if the O’s decide to go all in for a big bat first baseman?  At some point, one or two of these young arms in the O’s organization is going to have to move on to another team in some kind of in-season or off-season deal.  I don’t think Tillman is that guy, but you never know.

Drew’s projections for Tillman in 2010:

* 8-13 W/L record

* 4.66 ERA

* 1.398 WHIP