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Chris Tillman, Marcus Stroman announced as wild card starters

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The only two real choices were Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles are going with Tillman.

Chris Tillman in action for the Orioles in September.
Are you ready for this guy to start in the wild card game?
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There were only so many options for the Orioles to use as the starting pitcher in the wild card game. The easiest choice may well have been the team ERA leader, Kevin Gausman, but since he just pitched on Sunday, that wasn’t going to happen. The next best belonged to Chris Tillman, which may not be the sole reason why he’s been picked to be the starter for the game, but it’s tough to say he’s a bad choice.

Workloads being what they were, really the only choices were Tillman or Ubaldo Jimenez. Of the two, it’s actually been Jimenez who’s been the better pitcher of late.

Tillman hasn’t looked like the best version of himself since his short disabled list stint, though if you have that impression of him, most of that is because of one bad start against the Red Sox. And his most recent start came against these same Blue Jays, in Toronto, where he scattered six hits and three walks over 5.2 innings to allow only two runs (one earned).

Not a dominant outing, but it’s the kind of “good enough” where you’ll take your chances that the Orioles offense can do better than that against just about any pitcher.

So that’s the Orioles starter. If you were reading things on the Internet after the O’s and Jays clinched their spots, you may have been dreading that the Jays would use lefty Francisco Liriano in the wild card game, being as the Orioles have finished the season as literally the worst AL team at hitting against lefties. They batted .234/.301/.391 against southpaws.

Liriano in particular just struck out ten Orioles in 6.1 innings less than a week ago. The O’s ended up winning that game, but only against the Jays bullpen. Liriano allowed no runs while he was in the game.

Jays manager John Gibbons has either decided to ignore that memo or he never got the memo, because instead he’s using Marcus Stroman as his starting pitcher for the game. Stroman is decidedly right-handed. His 4.37 ERA was one of the higher ones on the Jays staff this season, and in HIS most recent game against the Orioles, also within the last week, he allowed four runs in seven innings.

Gibbons probably has some reason. Part of that reason may even be that he’s had about enough of his bullpen of late. Stroman was the Jays leader in innings pitched with 204. Maybe he just wants to get a guy who he knows will give him at least six innings, maybe more, no matter what, and he’ll take his chances with his offense.

Liriano will be available out of the bullpen, from what’s been said on Twitter, so it’s even possible that Gibbons might use Stroman followed by Liriano in hopes of neutralizing the O’s lefty bats in some of the middle innings.

Full rosters for the game don’t have to be set until tomorrow, so we won’t know exactly who the Orioles are carrying until then. First pitch for the game is 8:08pm and it air be on TBS.