For the past several seasons, Chris Tillman has been a very promising young arm for the Baltimore Orioles. However, from time to time, he is inconsistent, confounding and frustrating to watch on the mound.
On Tuesday night, the Orioles defeated the Houston Astros 4-1, and Tillman was excellent, only allowing one run in seven innings of work.
The Astros - universally predicted to be awful this season - were flying high and had won six straight games before facing Tillman and the Orioles.
I sometimes don't know what to think of the tall, lanky right-handed pitcher based on his up-and-down starts this year. However, when Tillman is good on the mound, he looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter.
As of this morning, Tillman has a 5-2 record with a 3.97 ERA in 70 1/3 innings pitched.
I stayed up and watched the first six innings of the game on Tuesday and was amazed by the work of Tillman.
His start in Houston was solid. However, he threw clunkers in his two previous starts against the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays.
With the precarious state of the starting rotation for the Orioles, they need starts on par with what Tillman provided on Tuesday if they want to stay relevant in the playoff race and in the American League pennant hunt.
The young talent on the squad, especially the pitchers, will need to take a serious step forward and avoid the ups and downs during a long season.
The Orioles need the starting staff to step it up considering how competitive the American League East is in 2013.
For the most part, Tillman has.
Tillman has had his shares of up and downs during his major league career. He was another guy in the organization who often shuffled between the majors and minors. But last season, Tillman finally delivered on his promise and had a 9-3 record with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts.
It is astounding how much Tillman has improved over the last several seasons, considering how bad he was at times in the past for the Orioles.
Fans wanted him traded in the past. However, there's a reason why the Orioles didn't trade him.
It's sometimes not prudent to trade young arms, and you need to give players a chance to succeed at the highest levels for before jettisoning them.
Tillman is proof of that.
It looks like now, thanks to a few changes in the past few years - mainly to his delivery - that Tillman has probably finally figured out how to pitch in the majors. His record right now - and in the summer of 2012 - indicates that.
The question is, can he be consistent from start to start?
It is still relatively early to answer that, but the Orioles will need him to step it up in each start if they are to compete.
Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.