The Orioles’ rotation is a constant guessing game. Unlike the burger joint, you won’t find Five Guys. Pitchers don’t always work on normal rest. The MVO might be TBA.
Chris Tillman gets the ball tonight against the Boston Red Sox in the first game of the final homestand of the regular season. Rookie Steve Johnson will start on Saturday before a sellout crowd. Sunday is undecided, with left-hander Joe Saunders a possibility.
Tillman faced the Red Sox in his last start on Sunday and held them to one run over six innings. He hasn’t lost since Aug. 11, with three wins, three no-decisions and one dead elbow in that span.
Miguel Gonzalez may have eased some of the rotation concerns Wednesday with his third consecutive quality start. Now it’s Tillman’s turn to do it.
Manager Buck Showalter denied recently that he was lining up his rotation for the playoffs. Maybe the one-game-at-a-time approach prohibits it.
I know this topic has been kicked around already, but who would you most trust to make the start in a one-game, do-or-die playoff?
I’ve heard some people nominate Tillman, which illustrates the huge strides that he’s made this season. He’s 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA in 73 innings. Not a bad choice.
A healthy Jason Hammel would have been a near-unanimous selection, but it’s hard to give him the ball in a one-game playoff when the Orioles are considering whether to arrange a simulated game for him.
I might have gone with Wei-Yin Chen, who has experience pitching in big games - though not in the majors - but he’s completed seven innings only once in his last nine starts.
My choice would probably be Gonzalez, which seems to fit in such a crazy, improbable season. A guy who was discovered in the Mexican League, who didn’t sign with the Orioles until the first week in March, who wasn’t in major league camp, who began the season in Triple-A Norfolk’s bullpen.
Yeah, that guy.
Gonzalez has nerves of steel and seven quality starts in his last nine outings. Showalter has been extra-careful with his innings, fearful that Gonzalez will wear down from a heavy workload that included all those appearances in winter ball. But he held the Blue Jays to two runs over seven innings on normal rest Wednesday night.
Chen is the only Orioles’ pitcher who’s reached double digits in victories. We’re not talking 1971 here. The leader of the pack is a 12-game winner. The guy I chose for the one-game playoff has eight wins - this year and in his major league career.
Don’t try to make sense of it.
NOTE: Matt Wieters’ paternity leave begins today.
Matt and his wife, Maria, are the proud parents of a baby boy. Maverick Luther Wieters, 8 lbs and 2 ounces, arrived at 5:11 a.m.
A paternity leave lasts up to three days. A player can choose to return earlier, of course.
Showalter will provide more information later today.