BY DILLON ATKINSON, @DAtkinsonOU
There is simply no other way around it: right-hander Chris Tillman significantly hurts the Orioles chances of winning every single time he takes the mound.
He has recorded an 8.10 ERA in 15 starts this year, averaging 4.44 innings pitched -- just over 4 1/3 -- per start. For comparison, Ubaldo Jimenez has not even had a stretch as bad as this one in his four-year Oriole career. Tillman has been that bad.
At this point, what more do you need to see? You have six starting pitchers, so ridding the rotation of Tillman would be just fine because they can just go back to five. If the Orioles want to keep a six-man rotation to manage Dylan Bundy's innings, then you can enter someone else into the sixth rotation spot. Jayson Aquino, Tyler Wilson, Alec Asher, Gabriel Ynoa, Logan Verrett, or anyone else you can think of who is in Norfolk would likely be a more reliable option every sixth day than Tillman. Heck, Miguel Castro tossed six innings in relief Thursday night to save the rest of the bullpen. He may not be the best option, but as of right now I'd say he's more reliable than Tillman.
Regardless, Tillman needs to be out of the starting rotation for the remainder of this season. There are three options the Orioles can choose from in doing so.
Move him to the bullpen
This has been done with Jimenez on multiple occasions in his four years as an Oriole. Like I said previously, he hasn't even had as bad of a stretch than what Tillman is currently having, so why not move Tillman to mop-up duty?
You won't be depending on him to go five-plus innings every five or six days to give the ballclub a chance to win. Instead, you'll be dependent on him to give you three or four innings out of the bullpen in a ball game that you're already losing by five or more runs.
Place him on the 10-day disabled list
I mean, there's no way he's healthy, right? He and Buck Showalter continue to say there are no health issues in his shoulder, but I don't believe them one bit. Avi Miller (via Twitter) pointed out Tillman's lower release point back in June, signaling shoulder discomfort.
And now that we're in August, nothing has changed. Tillman is still releasing the ball at a lower arm slot, raising some eyebrows about whether or not his shoulder his hurt or fatigued.
Don't want to move him to the bullpen? That's perfectly fine. Put him on the disabled list with a shoulder injury or a "tired arm," and make sure he doesn't rush back.
Designate him for assignment
This one is probably the least likely to happen. I think Tillman is probably too valuable in the clubhouse for the players to even support this move, no matter how bad he's been. Another reason why the Orioles may not want to DFA him is they may not want to burn any bridges. At the moment, they only have Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the 2018 starting rotation. They're going to have to fill at least one of those spots with a cheap veteran, and bringing back Tillman on a one-year "prove it" deal this offseason may actually be a strong possibility.
The fourth possibility is that the Orioles could leave him in the rotation. If they do this and continue to send Tillman to the mound every fifth or sixth game, they will be putting themselves in a position to lose almost each and every time. It's time to get him out of the rotation. My suggestion would be to place him on the disabled list. If they don't do that, I could absolutely get behind sending him to the bullpen. DFAing him would be tough, but if they do that (which I doubt they would), I'd support the move.
There's only one option for Tillman that I 100-percent will not agree with or get behind, and that's leaving him in the rotation. He's had 15 starts, recording an 8.10 ERA, averaging 4.44 innings pitched per start. There isn't anything left to see. A change is needed if the Orioles are actually serious about making a run.