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March 30, 2011

Tillman named Sunday starter; Bergesen to bullpen

The Orioles have announced their starter for Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays: Right-hander Chris Tillman.

That means Brad Bergesen will begin the season in the bullpen, but would be the leading candidate to start April 10, when the team needs a fifth starter.

Tillman, 22, was 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA in five games, four starts, this spring. He allowed 20 hits and nine walks while striking out 10 in 18 1/3 innings.

He obviously will be on a short leash with both Justin Duchscherer (disabled list) and Zach Britton (minors) targeting late April for their Orioles’ debuts.

Bergesen, whose last spring start was cut short Friday when he took a liner off the right forearm, was 1-1 with a 5.82 ERA in six starts. He allowed 25 hits and six walks while striking out seven in 17 innings.

He threw two innings in a simulated game Wednesday against Orioles’ minor leaguers.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 5:02 PM | | Comments (15)


In Buck We Trust . GO O'S

Chris Tillman, I think you can do it!
I look forward to watching you do so!
Prove all the naysayers wrong by winning this game on Sunday!

I hope the orioles young pitchers are for real because the bullpen looks a little shaky, and also, how does Robert Andino make this team? He's not going to hit a lick.

Tillman is awful. Plain and simple. He's 30 years old and he still can't pitch. Time to pull the plug on that experiment. He'll never be more than a AA pitcher. Let him start at Bowie. LOL!!!!

Bergeson screwed again because he doesn't have the "prospect" label. I guess he didn't show Buck enough in the 2nd half last year. Hard to figure.

Agree with ya Jeff. Bergs has proven, when healthy, that he can pitch and win in the bigs.

Jeff, come on now, it clearly says that Bergesen will in all likelihood miss one start and then pitch on April 10, where I'm sure things will be reevaluated again .

Bergueson isn't being put in the bullpen b/c he doesn't have the "prospect" label. It is because he didn't perform well at spring training and he has had trouble with his sinker. Bergueson needs his sinker to perform well. Tillman turns 23 in two weeks (Brummie Oriole (aka yankee fan)) isn't proven but also pitched pretty well at the end of the year and had a better spring.
The thing is, our starting pitching is our weak spot but if we can find the best 5 guys out of our 7 big league starters (guthrie, matsuz, duchsherer, tillman, bergy, britton, arrieta) then we will win more games than we lose.

I'm not a fan of this move. I think Bergeson is a better pitcher right now. Tillman is still very young and may benefit from some time in the bullpen. I like Bergeson's sinker and how he attacks the lower part of the strike zone. So he didn't have the best spring, neither did Tillman. No one did except fro Britton.

I hope this is only temporary and that Bergeson gets his chance in the starting rotation. I like his tempo and his demeanor. I remember reading how much the position players like having him pitch because of his quick tempo and that he's all business when he's on the mound. I think his command of the game is better suited for a starting pitcher and not a relief pitcher.

Howard Megdal wrote a cute little alphabet poem on MLB Trade Rumors, but I took exception to the section where the Orioles were mentioned.

O is for Orioles, with new faces from the past
In league's toughest division, they still should finish last

What he should have written
O is for Orioles, whose fans are the “Best”
In the league’s toughest division, they are a on a tireless quest.
To cheer the Orioles return to their proper position with a “Great” vision
With help from faces of the Past to win the Division!

Oh and one other thing since I saw this comment

Agree with ya Jeff. Bergs has proven, when healthy, that he can pitch and win in the bigs

Tillman has too!
He dismantled the Rangers and Tigers last year. Give him a chance!

Good morning to everyone, especially Edward in Essex.

I am not a big Tillman fan. He has never shown much of anything. But, I agree with the decision. Tillman is the least worst option for failure.

Tillman's spring ERA is almost two runs a game better then Bergenson's.

Brad's had the better part of two years to prove he's a ML starter. When his sinker is clicking, and he pitches quickly, he can be an effective ground ball pitcher. When he loses his sink he's very hittable. I like the guy, and would love to see him be effective. But sometimes when he's out there on the mound with no sinker, he's trying to do it with smoke and mirrors.

Some guys sinkers work better when their arm is tired, they get too strong and juiced up to pitch waiting between starts. Jim Johnson's an example of a guy who was very ordinary as a minor league starter, but has a killer ML sinker out of the pen. Bergenson could end up being another one of those guys.

Tillman is an interesting case, got all the way to the majors not really needing another pitch to throw off his fastball. Turns out his fastball is staight and hard with no late life at all. Pretty predictable to hit, so he spent the winter working on different grips and trying to add a cutter to the mix. Some guys throw a 2 seamer, 4 seamer, and cutter, all off their regular fastball motion. So their fastball serves as 3 different pitches.

His success in the spring has been mixed, just like most of the other Oriole pitchers. Conner, Adair and Showalter seemed to be tweaking things with most of the staff this spring. So in some ways I think you can throw the spring numbers out the window.

In Tillman's case, he's been a "prospect" since he was about 18, and we've heard his name over and over again because he was the killer young arm in the Bedard trade. Turns out he was was hurt, and the O's had to wait an extra year on him. The O's also rushed him to the majors two years ago, so the guy's pitched over his head and been on the elevator between AAA and the majors for the last two seasons.

Seems like this will be his shot between now and when Britton is ready to come up. Let's hope he makes the decision
really hard for Buck.

And he is actually a little younger then Britton, so he sure isn't an old prospect. How Buck handles these young pitchers and weaves them into a staff is going to be key to the O's success the next few years.

I swear, I think some of you guys don't read the entire articles before responding. Did you miss the part where is says Bergesen is the leading (probably only) candidate to start on April 10, the first time the Orioles will need a 5th starter? What exactly is the problem with him being available for bullpen duty until then?

Bergeson needs to work...perhaps the thought is he'll get more work in the bullpen then if he's the 5th man in the rotation, at least at the moment. Sinkerball pitchers need to pitch often as their pitches sink better when they're actually a bit tired. You throw a sinker too hard, it rises and becomes a batting practice fastball also known as a home run for the opposing team. Jury's out on Tillman. He's a curiousity. Typically a young pitching prospect has some pitch that is head and shoulders above the rest...but what is Tillman's best pitch? What I kept hearing last year with Tillman was, his fastball is straight as a string. Not good. Hopefully he got some work in this spring to put some movement on it. And don't waste keyboard time on Brummie or Wayne or whatever these trolls are calling themselves these days...the team could win the World Series in five games and they'd complain they shoulda won it in four...Go O's!

Personally, I'd rather see Bergy given the start on Sunday, Lousy spring or no, he has earned the spot time and again last year while Tillman hasn't accomplished much of anything.

Still, it is what it is, and what it is is a bigger and better chance for Tillman to prove he belongs. Careers are made and crushed on such minor bumps of history and, if Chris wants to be a part of this emerging Kiddie Corps, now is the time to show us, primarily because - not to put pressure on or anything! - if he flops, it may be just about his last opportunity in this organization..

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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