Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
A few days ago, there was no question who would be on the bump for Opening Day: Chris Tillman (pictured).
The righty had a very nice year in 2013, pitching to a 16-7 record with a 3.71 ERA in 206.1 innings. This came after a season in which he made 15 starts to close the year, going 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA.
It's safe to say that Tillman has become the O's pitching leader.
However, the Orioles agreed to terms on a four-year, $50-million contract with free agent Ubaldo Jimenez on Monday, giving the team another top-of-the-rotation option. While Jimenez has been somewhat inconsistent throughout his career, he's a solid starter overall, capable of being virtually unhittable any time he toes the rubber.
Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 182.2 innings for the Cleveland Indians last season, and the O's hope that that's the Jimenez they'll be getting, as opposed to the one who threw to a 5.40 ERA and 9-17 record in 2012.
Tillman has been with the Orioles for years and has been their best starting pitcher for the last two seasons. He's earned the right to start on Opening Day. On the other hand, Jimenez may have more potential to be brilliant every time out, even if he's less consistent. That could convince Showalter to slot Jimenez at the front of the rotation to go toe-to-toe with the best starting pitchers of opponents early in the year.
It will certainly be an interesting battle to watch this spring.