On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles opened their 2017 spring training and already have been given bad news. Chris Tillman a right-hander has not completely recovered from his shoulder problem and will not be available to start the regular season in April.
During the second half of the season in 2016, Tillman missed just over two weeks due to shoulder bursitis. Therefore it was not a good sign when Tillman needed treatment during December following a number of weeks of rest.
Due to problems with his shoulder, Tillman’s average velocity of his fastball gradually dropped during 2016. That is not hopeful and why Baltimore will be very careful with the pitcher during spring training.
It is far better to miss a couple of games early than a larger number later in the season.
With Tillman on ice for now, the starting rotation for Baltimore appears to be Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and then a big question mark.
Amongst the current possibilities to fill the fifth spot in the rotation are Mike Wright, Logan Verrett, Gabriel Ynoa and Tyler Wilson.
That group of four pitchers combined for an ERA of 5.46 in 278 1/3 innings during 2016. It does not mean this season they will pitch as poorly, but it does not inspire that much confidence.
Baltimore won 89 games and most of their success was thanks to a strong offense and bullpen that both helped to cover up a poor starting rotation. It appears more of the same will take place this season.
The Orioles reached the postseason last year as one of the wildcard teams, despite having a rotation that posted an ERA of 4.72, which was seventh worst in all of baseball.
Nearly the same staff returns in 2017 that ended the season last year for Baltimore. Ynoa and Verrett arrived during the winter in a pair of trades with the New York Mets.
Any improvement likely will come from a better performance of guys that pitched last season.
Tillman was the best starter for Baltimore from the beginning to the end of last season.
Tillman threw 172 innings, ending with an ERA of 3.77. It appeared he would make his fourth consecutive Opening Day start this season, which is something no other pitcher for the Orioles has done since Jim Palmer did. The Hall of Famer accomplished that feat from 1974 to 1977.