The Baltimore Orioles need pitching and some of the least expensive free agents have already signed with other teams.
Just say no to Tillman
Tillman had a chance to show the Orioles that he deserved to stay in Birdland. In fact, he had nine years to do it. In 2017, he had a WAR of -2.2 and one of the worst ERAs of any veteran starters. His 7.84 ERA and WHIP of 1.892 showed how much he struggled on the mound.
Tillman knew that he was going to be a free agent at the end of the season. Unfortunately, his constant shoulder issue in 2017 cost him a sure-thing with the O’s. Shoulder injuries are tough for pitchers to recover from and he might have to move to the bullpen for the remainder of his career. But, no one wants a pitcher with an ERA that high – even in the pen. He also might have to make major changes to his delivery, which can take a serious amount of time.
Even he gets it
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Tillman clearly understands what his 2017 season did to his future. In an article from Peter Schmuck with the Baltimore Sun, Tillman said:
"“I don’t need anyone to feel bad for me. It’s no one’s fault but mine.”"
No baseball team should ever sign a player simply because they feel sorry for him. The Orioles need starting pitching that can strikeout the big hitters on the opposing teams in the AL East. Tillman, in 93 innings, only struck out 63 batters. He walked 51. The Orioles need better than this.
Re-signing Tillman is too big of a gamble
Yes, Tillman did have some successful seasons with the Orioles, but they were surrounded by seasons with high ERAs. In fact, of his nine years, he had four seasons with ERAs over 5.00. He had one season with an ERA of 4.99. The other four were where a number-one pitcher should be: between 2.93 and 3.77. In 2017, not one starting pitcher had an ERA in the threes. There is no way the Orioles can contend with pitching like that.
Looking back at Tillman’s history, it is worth wondering if he was simply overused between 2013 and 2016. In those four seasons, he started 128 games (more than 30 per year) and 758 innings. In 2012, he started 15 games and 86 innings, then the following season doubled his starts and pitched 206 innings. He did not slow down after that.
For Tillman’s sake, hopefully, he can get his pitching command under control. For the Orioles sake, hopefully, that gamble is taken with another team.