Following another start that fell significantly short of his typical output in previous years, Chris Tillman is being moved to the Orioles bullpen for an undetermined period of time.
Manager Buck Showalter said Tillman will be available for Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers and won’t start next week while the Orioles are on the West Coast.
Tillman is 1-7 with an 8.10 ERA and 2.040 WHIP in 15 starts over 66 2/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs and seven total Thursday night and failed to record an out in the third inning.
Showalter met with Tillman yesterday to discuss the switch. Pitching coach Roger McDowell and bullpen coach Alan Mills were present.
“It’s done good things for Ubaldo (Jiménez) and some other people in the past,” Showalter said. “Did some real good things for Zach Britton on the other end of it. But I know Chris, talking to him, physically he feels great, he feels good, and that’s been frustrating for all of us, so we’re trying to figure out some way to try to get him back.
“Like they’ve been doing all year, they made some more adjustments to see if he feels better. It’s tough for him to have a work day and do things that he can work on, but Ubaldo seemed to find a way to make it productive. I know Chris will, too, because those guys are going to need to pitch and they’re going to need to do well.”
Tillman’s 194 major league appearances have come as a starter. He had six relief outings in the minors - five in rookie ball in the Mariners organization in 2006 and one with Triple-A Norfolk in 2012.
The Orioles will find out whether Tillman is able to warm up quickly, which has been a challenge for Jiménez.
“We say that and we think that, but it may not be the case. There’s some unknown there,” Showalter said.
“Chris said, ‘I don’t really know. I think I’m going to be able to get ready and come in sooner than a lot of people think,’ but it requires a little foresight on our part in the dugout, but you also don’t want to get him up, get him down, get him up, get him down if you can help it.
“With a starting pitcher, one advantage of that is that they are used to getting up and sitting down for 10 or 12 or 15 minutes and getting back up again. That’s what they do. Hopefully, five, six, seven, eight, nine times. So there’s a little bit of a precursor there.”
The Orioles will go with a five-man rotation. Miguel Castro stays in a relief role as part of an eight-man bullpen.
Castro may be available on Sunday after working six shutout innings in relief of Tillman.
Showalter will continue to find ways to provide extra rest for Dylan Bundy, checking the schedule for off-days.
“We’ll stay with five for the time being,” Showalter said. “But if we feel like there’s somebody who needs to be skipped or needs extra time, we have the potential to fill that from our bullpen, provided we don’t make an adjustment in the bullpen. We’d still like to get four guys on the bench.”
Meanwhile, Mark Trumbo is expected to come off the disabled list on Wednesday without an injury rehab assignment. He’ll fly with the team to Anaheim Sunday night.
Catcher Caleb Joseph has some swelling and soreness in his right hand, but he’s expected to be available tonight. Joseph was hit by a pitch last night.
“That seemed to manage well,” Showalter said.
Ryan Flaherty will stay with Double-A Bowie through Sunday and is nearing a return from the disabled list.
For the Tigers
Ian Kinsler 2B
Nicholas Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Mikie Mahtook CF
Victor Martinez DH
James McCann C
Jim Adduci RF
Jose Iglesias SS
Drew VerHagen RHP