It was back in 2009 when former manager Dave Trembley stated the “cavalry” is coming for the Baltimore Orioles. Trembley was talking about the group of young pitching prospects who were set to debut around the same time, all with high expectations. Former first round pick Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman were the young starters considered apart of the “cavalry.”
For arguments sake I would include left handed starter Zach Britton to be apart of the “cavalry.” Even though he wasn’t originally thought of, he quickly became one of the Orioles top pitching prospects soon after Trembley’s 2009 proclamation.
The idea of having a high thought of pitching prospect or two debuting for the Orioles wasn’t anything new for Baltimore. In a coincidence, the Orioles are welcoming maybe their most lauded pitching prospect in recent memory for tonight’s game in Dylan Bundy. The team has had their fair share of highly touted young pitchers. This was; however, the first time the Orioles had four of them set to debut within a year or two of each other.
Matusz, Britton, Arrieta, and Tillman. All came to the big leagues with the potential to be top of the rotation starters. They each brought different intangibles to the mound that made them so highly touted. They also each have struggled mightily at times for the Orioles.
This isn’t to say each pitcher hasn’t had their moments in the last few seasons. Each one of these pitchers has had moments (some longer than others) at the big league level where they looked like they could reach their full potential and anchor the Orioles rotation for years to come.
None of the “cavalry” can be considered a prospect anymore, but the eldest of the group (Arrieta) is still only 26-years-old. There is still time for one, or all of them to reach their full potential.
This brings me to my question. Each of these pitchers has contributed in some shape or form to the Orioles winning 2012 season. They have all taken drastically different paths back to the big league roster here in September. Surely each of these pitchers will have an opportunity to contribute to the Orioles success or failure in these last few weeks. However, up until now, which pitcher would you say has been the most important to the Orioles 2012 success?
Be warned, don’t take too much stock in their season long statistics. Some of them aren’t pretty. It has been the “cavalry’s” recent play that has helped the most.
In what was a major surprise to me, Arrieta started the season as the team’s opening day starter. He looked the part for the first month or so of the season. Arrieta even turned in a dominating eight inning, nine strikeout performance against the New York Yankees. It didn’t last long though. Arrieta struggled and was sent down to the minors. It wasn’t until September when Arrieta rejoined the team to pitch out of the bullpen that Arrieta started to look impressive again. Arrieta has been dominating in his last couple relief appearances. Could Arrieta’s future be in the back end of the Orioles bullpen? It certainly seems like his immediate future is there.
Matusz started the season in the Orioles rotation, but he never seemed himself. He too was sent down to the minors after struggling only to return to the team late in August as a reliever. Matusz, like Arrieta, has been impressive pitching out of the bullpen. He arguably has helped the Orioles more out of the bullpen considering he has been the team’s lone reliable left handed reliever since Troy Patton got injured.
Britton didn’t make his first start for the Orioles until July 17th due to a shoulder injury. Like his rookie season, Britton has been dominating at times with the Orioles then has looked lost in other starts.
The most surprising performance to me personally has been from Tillman. I had given up on Tillman after last season. This is why I will never be employed by a major league team. After seeing severe drops in velocity at times last season, Tillman worked with director of pitching development Rick Peterson and has looked like a different pitcher since being called up July fourth. Tillman has been huge for the Orioles down the stretch and has become one of their more reliable starters.
So which young Orioles starter do you think has helped the Orioles the most in 2012? They all have contributed in different ways. The question is who has helped the most? Or maybe the question should be, who WILL help the most in the final couple weeks?
The “Cavalry” 2012
Jake Arrieta: 3-9, 5.91 ERA, 21 Games Pitched, 18 Games Started, Last two appearances (5.1 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, o runs)
Brian Matusz: 6-10, 5.04 ERA, 28 Games Pitched, 16 Games Started, As a reliever (11 Games Pitched, 1.93 ERA, 9.1 innings, 13 strikeouts)
Zach Britton: 5-3, 5.16 ERA, 11 Games Pitched, 11 Games Started
Chris Tillman: 8-2, 3.22 ERA, 12 Games Pitched, 12 Games Started, 7 Quality Starts