Orioles rotation questions


Seeing as how Brian Matusz seems to struggle in each of his starts, the question of whether Tommy Hunter was the right choice for the Orioles organization to demote to Triple-A Norfolk is inevitably going to surface. While the year has started off very strongly for the Orioles, it has recently become a struggle for starters to not give up runs and to go deep into games. In the last two games, O’s starters have given up 13 earned runs. Currently, on the 25-man roster there are only four starters: Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Brian Matusz.

Dana Eveland is very likely to be Friday’s starter, while Hunter was working out the kinks in Triple-A Norfolk before being recalled for the second game of the doubleheader today. But again, the question rises: Why Hunter? In his six starts before being sent down, Hunter was 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA. He gave up nine home runs and had a 20:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

On his season, Matusz is 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA over six starts. He has given up four home runs and has a 22:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So, through these numbers alone, one thing is evident: the Orioles need starting pitching. While the starts began the season strongly, extra innings and lack of quality starts have led to the bullpen being frequented. However, for the benefit of the entire team, starters need to go deeper in order to relieve the bullpen and to allow the team a better chance to win.

But for now, who can fill the gaps? Who can go deep and fill that empty slot in the Orioles’ starting five?

With Jason Berken being sent back down to Triple-A after one stint with the O’s, it looks as if there are not a ton of options. Sure, there are names at Norfolk: Joel Pieneiro, Steve Johnson and Brad Bergesen. However, with the rotation order at Triple-A having Pieneiro and Johnson pitch earlier in the week and with Bergesen struggling, there is one name that is most likely to join the rotation after Eveland: Chris Tillman.

Sound familiar?

On the season, Tillman is 3-3 with a 5.10 ERA and is scheduled to start Friday for the Tides. This start could easily be limited or forfeited if he was to be moved up. In his career with the O’s, Tillman is 7-15 with a 5.52 lifetime ERA. In 36 games, he’s pitched a total of 180 2/3 innings. For those of you who aren’t great at mental math, (I used a calculator,) that’s roughly five innings per outing.

Deep into games? Not so much. All the Orioles have right now? Just maybe.

So to answer the original question, Matusz may simply be the lesser of two evils in regards to pitching woes. Both he and Hunter have been struggling majorly. While the answer may not be black and white, it is evident that both could not be sent down because of the lack of pitchers to take both of their places. If Matusz is to be sent down, Tillman is likely to be brought up.Can Eveland help the rotation on Friday? Maybe. Is Tillman the answer to the O’s rotation issues? Probably not. One thing, however, is for certain: The rotation of late most certainly inspires more questions than it does to provide answers.