Why Chris Tillman Should Replace Tommy Hunter in the Orioles Starting Rotation

Jonathan Ty LangCorrespondent IJune 20, 2012

Why Chris Tillman Should Replace Tommy Hunter in the Orioles Starting Rotation

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    The Baltimore Orioles find themselves 10 games above .500 and are only two and a half games out of first place behind the red-hot New York Yankees despite inconsistent play from the starting rotation.

    Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been spectacular this season, and Brian Matusz has started to string together some quality starts. But both Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter have struggled so far this season.

    The struggles of Hunter and Arrieta have led to many fans and experts alike to speculate that the O's will look to add a starting pitcher before the trading deadline. This is a likely scenario, but for the time being, there are some in house options available for the Orioles.

    Among the pitchers in the minors Baltimore could turn to is the recently acquired Jamie Moyer, who has overachieved in two starts. I believe the O's should wait and see with Moyer, though. It is unlikely he can succeed in the AL East with his stuff.

    Some fans are itching to see Zach Britton in Baltimore as well, but he has been ineffective at Triple-A and needs to string together some quality starts before he joins the big league squad.

    Another option the O's could turn to is 24-year-old Chris Tillman. Tillman has struggled in his previous stints at the major league level, but it appears now that he could help the Orioles continue their dream season.

    Tillman should replace Hunter immediately as the Baltimore Orioles fifth starter.

Tommy Hunter Has Been Ineffective

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    Right now, the Orioles are winning ball games despite the performance of Tommy Hunter.

    Hunter has been terrible since posting average numbers in April. In May, Hunter pitched to a 7.18 ERA, and June hasn't been much better, with him sporting an ERA of 6.05 for the month.

    That is really bad—like, permanently demoted bad.

    The numbers speak for themselves. Hunter belongs in the minors for the time being where he can work on keeping the ball in the park.

Chris Tillman Has Been Pitching Well

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    In Chris Tillman's last nine starts at Triple-A, he has a 3.32 ERA, six quality starts and has only surrendered three home runs in 54.1 innings over that span.

    Hunter has given up 18 bombs in just over 77 innings—that leads the league.

    One problem Tillman has always had is pitching deep into ball games. But over his past 10 starts, he has only failed to pitch into the sixth inning once.

    Tillman has been good at Triple-A, and Hunter has been bad at the major league level. Seems like a simple switch should be in order.

Tillman Is Still Young

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    One reason the O's should promote Tillman is his youth; he just turned 24 in April.

    Hunter is still 25, so perhaps it is too early to give up on him. But unless he develops a plus put-away pitch, he is always going to struggle in my opinion.

    Tillman was rushed to the bigs, and now, after having been kicked around in the majors, he can grasp what it takes to succeed as a pitcher.

    It seems Tillman has been with Baltimore forever, but he is still really young. The Orioles need to play him now to see if he should be considered a future piece for this up-and-coming squad.

    If Tillman can pitch effectively, the O's would have another young starter to go with Brian Matusz and Wei-Yin Chen. With a prospect like Dylan Bundy set to join the rotation in the coming years, the Orioles could have a top-notch rotation capable of winning a lot of ball games.