Chris Tillman’s abbreviated Thursday outing seems to have at last been the final straw for the Orioles. Or at least, it was a straw, anyway. The Orioles found a temporary solution to the Tillman problem by placing him on the disabled list before Friday’s game with what was described as a lower back strain.
At one point during the tenure of Ubaldo Jimenez, the O’s placed him on the disabled list with what was said to be a rolled ankle that occurred when he stepped in a pothole while getting out of his car. I have long joked that Dan Duquette either personally jackhammered that pothole or ordered it to be done.
I mention this in reference to the Tillman news because there will be some reason offered by manager Buck Showalter after the game - or so he promised the Orioles beat writers before the game - and I won’t be able to help jokingly wondering whether Duquette was responsible for this injury, too. “Hey, Chris, could you help me lift this? No, it’s OK, you don’t need to lift with your knees. It’s light, I promise.”
Tillman’s 7.84 ERA in 24 games last year and 10.43 ERA through seven games this year speak for themselves. He appears to be toast. There is a reason why no other team offered him guaranteed MLB money. The Orioles seem to have flushed $3 million down the toilet in signing him. They have avoided making a final decision on Tillman for now. He can hide on the disabled list and maybe even pitch some rehab games in the minors.
If the Orioles are lucky, this buys them a month or more. Whether there is any value in buying a month rather than just cutting him now is something I might dispute, as, I suspect, would you. They could use the 40-man roster spot on whoever’s pitching the best in Norfolk right now who isn’t already on the roster and see what happens. Perhaps some time in June, we will get to that point.
For Friday night, the move means that the Orioles can add a fresh reliever to the roster. That’s Jimmy Yacabonis, back again after an earlier 2018 appearance. Hopefully this one goes better: He gave up three runs in an inning the last time around.
There will be more moves to come in order to keep the O’s bullpen fresh and rotation ready. Tillman’s spot will have to be filled eventually. There is a 26th man available for Saturday’s doubleheader. They still haven’t announced a Game 1 starter, who could be joining the roster just for tomorrow.
As Showalter is fond of saying, there are a lot of moving parts. For the next ten days at least, Tillman will not be one of them, which is a victory for everyone who watches Orioles games with a vested interest in their winning.