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MLB Baltimore Orioles

Chris Tillman a Dark Horse for Baltimore Orioles in 2013

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After an over-achieving 2012 season, the Baltimore Orioles are facing many new challenges heading into 2013. Will they be able to match the performance submitted by their pitching staff in last season’s remarkable run to the playoffs? With the vast majority of pitchers returning from a bullpen that ranked near the head of the Major League class, it will be interesting to see how the members of the starting rotation will evolve. One pitcher to keep an eye on will be right-hander Chris Tillman.

Baltimore has put a lot of stock in the young pitcher since he was acquired in a 2008 trade with the Seattle Mariners that also brought slugger Adam Jones to Baltimore. After a few stints with the big club, it looks like the 24 year-old hurler is here to stay.

Yet, it seems as though Tillman will take the back seat in hype with Baltimore’s fan base after solid first-year campaigns from starters Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.

Tillman made drastic improvements in 2012 that should give the fans in Charm City a lot to look forward to. Nearly every statistical category was a plus in 2012 compared to 2011, including a huge progression in hits per nine innings ratio with 6.9 hits per nine innings ratio (11.2 in 2011). Most notably may be his win-loss record jumping to 9-3 from 3-5 the previous year.

Manager Buck Showalter historically does not name any guaranteed spots in the starting rotation before spring training, but one has to believe that Chris Tillman will be one of them. If this happens, this will be an opportunity for the young right-hander to put in time in a full-season in the big leagues. If his numbers over the years are any implication of his upside, look for Tillman to come out of the woodwork to solidify an up-and-coming Oriole’s rotation this season.