The Orioles are very much in the thick of the AL East race and at this point I am on the AL East or bust bandwagon, but if that doesn’t happen and the Orioles are forced into the one game wild card the question has to be asked…
Most teams would throw their stud ace pitcher, but the problem in Baltimore is the Orioles don’t have one. They do not have a Verlander or someone of that pedigree to put on the mound in a one or done situation. That is not to say the Orioles do not have viable options and at this point I’ll feel comfortable with whatever Buck chooses to do, but its fun to talk and debate about.
So if you were managing this team in a 1 game play-in, who would you put on the mound?
Chen has been the work horse for the Orioles in his first major league season with 31 starts and has been the only main stay in the Orioles rotation this season. Along with eating up the most innings on the staff with 186 IP, Chen also leads the Orioles in wins with 12 and strike outs with 150. He also has the ability to throw deep into games going into the 7th inning or better for the Birds 9 times, with 4 of those 9 starts coming against playoff teams.
Hammel has been banged up since just after the All-Star break, but prior to that he was hands down the Orioles best pitcher. For the season he sports an 8-6 record with 3.43 ERA, 113 SO in 118 IP. Pretty good numbers for a no name guy who came over from the Rockies in the off-season. If Hammel was healthy, he is the clear-cut answer to this question, but that is a big if. You do not want to start a guy in a one game playoff whose knee might give out. The good thing about Hammel though is that 5 of his 8 wins are against playoff teams, but him getting the start in this game would be a long shot.
Since making his first start on July 4th this season, Tillman has been pretty steady every time the Orioles have given him the ball. He is 8-2 with a 3.08 ERA and averages about 6 innings a start. Since the All-Star break, Tillman has beat the Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees twice. The 25-year-old Tillman has long been a prospect for the Orioles but it has all come together in 2012 which has by far been his best stint in the big leagues.
Without a doubt Miguel Gonzalez is the story of the Orioles rotation this year. He is 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA and it all came out of no where. Along with his record, the Orioles have won 9 of the 16 games he has appeared in. No to mention that just like Tillman, Gonzalez has thrown well against good teams, with 2 wins over the Yankees and one over the Angles who could end up a potential match-up in the one game playoff. One thing is for sure, it would be a great story if Gonzalez got the ball for the play-in game.
While the Orioles have used a lot of starting pitchers this season, I think these 4 have the best shot to toe the rubber if the Orioles have to play an all or nothing game.
If it were me I would choose Tillman. Out of the 4, he has been the hottest and has the best pure stuff. In a one game play off that is what you want.
Go ahead and vote.