Baltimore Orioles: Is Chris Tillman On The Path To Becoming Elite?

By Randy Holt
Chris Tillman
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As the season has worn on for the Baltimore Orioles, the question of whether or not they have the pitching to be a serious contender in the American League has become a big one. They’ve had their struggles on the bump this season, both in the rotation and out of the bullpen.

However, there’s at least one starter that hasn’t many issues this season, and that is Chris Tillman, who has worked his way into the ace role for the O’s. A pitcher that many had doubted prior to the 2012 season, Tillman has pieced together a brilliant 2013 campaign, and looks like he could be on the way to becoming an elite hurler in this league.

While his 2.93 ERA was very good in 2012, for an Orioles team that reached the postseason, many still had questions in regard to Tillman. Those questions came thanks to a high xFIP, which was over four, and a limited sample space. Regardless, the success he’s had in the last two years shows that he’s managed to come further along in his development after a few rough years bouncing between the major and minor league levels.

This season in particular has been an impressive one for Tillman.  He’s been able to build on the success that he did have last year, in his 27 starts. He’s sporting a 3.61 ERA for the year to this point, and an improved xFIP, which is at 3.94 for the year. The All Star has gotten better as the year has worn on as well.

The second half of the season has seen Tillman pitch to a 2.93 ERA and hold opposing hitters to an average of only .196. He’s striking out a full hitter more per nine, and walking nearly a full hitter less. His WHIP in the second half of the season is at just 0.99. He has 18 quality starts in his 27 starts this year.

Chris Tillman has been a pleasant surprise, and has clearly established himself as a top arm for this O’s club. He likely doesn’t have the stuff to be what we would define as ‘elite’, but there’s no doubt that he’s a steady and reliable arm at the front end of this rotation. At 25, he’s a building block for their rotation, though you likely won’t see his name in the mix for the Cy Young anytime soon.

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