Chris Tillman hasn’t been promised a specific number of starts over these final weeks of the season. He takes the ball tomorrow for the first time in the majors since July 19. That’s the only guarantee.
“He’s going to get an opportunity to pitch tomorrow,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I haven’t seen him pitch other than on tape and everybody here has, so I’m kind of the last guy. We’ll see after tomorrow’s start where we go.”
It’s Tillman’s turn to be evaluated.
“You’ve just got to play between the lines,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to throw out some of those good outings this year. He’s coming off a good one down below. A lot of people here I respect think that I need to get a look at him.”
On the flipside, you also have a veteran who’s trying to make an impression - if not for the Orioles, for other teams that might need a left-handed reliever in 2011.
Mark Hendrickson, 36, hasn’t allowed a run in eight of his nine appearances since Showalter took over as manager. He turned in three scoreless innings last night, striking out five and lowering his ERA from 5.20 to 4.97.
“I think as our starting pitching gets deeper in the game, it allows you to put people in a position where they can be more successful and not have to overexpose certain things,” Showalter said. “Obviously, last night their lineup matched up real well with what Mark brings. He’s a guy that understands his strengths and weaknesses. He’s got quite a file on everybody else and I think he understands that more is not always better.”
I’ve heard press box arguments for keeping Hendrickson because you pretty much know what you’re getting, as opposed to an unknown like Troy Patton, and arguments for letting him walk and giving a younger arm an opportunity.
“When you’re with him, you understand exactly why people have wanted him around and what he allows you to do as a manager as far as versatility,” Showalter said. “There’s a reason they call him “smooth.” He understands it. He understands what he’s here for and how he can stay in the major leagues. He’s mature. Sometimes, I wish some of our young pitchers would listen to him even more than they do. He carries a voice of wisdom here.”