Around Charm City, it is no secret that the current Baltimore Orioles are not really known for their pitching prowess, but the defacto ace of the staff, Chris Tillman made the All Star game in 2013 and Orioles fans are actually excited about a "potential ace" for a team that has lacked one for quite some time. What many are under appreciating and failing to realize is that Miguel Gonzalez was just as good if not better than Tillman in 2013.
Gonzalez is one of the players that you simply have to tip your cap to Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette and his international scouting department for signing as he truly is a diamond in the rough. He made his debut in 2012 and was absolutely phenomenal for the Birds as they made their first postseason berth since 1997 and Gonzalez was a integral part to that team going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 appearances, 15 of which were starts.
So many have been and continue to be willing to ignore what Gonzalez brings to the table and believe it or not, a very valid argument can be made that Gonzalez is just as good, if not better than Tillman right now.
We know what your thinking, "are they crazy at Orioles101?" No, we are not crazy, just hear us out.
Tillman made the All Star team in 2013 and won more games in one season than any other Orioles pitcher this century (2000's) as he went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA, and was dependable as he made 33 starts and threw 206 1/3 innings.
Gonzalez's 2013 was also very respectable, despite what many fans and experts believe, as he went 11-8 with a 3.78 ERA as he made 28 starts and 30 total appearances, while tossing 171 1/3 innings.
Ok, so Tillman won more games, had a slightly lower ERA, made five more starts and threw 35 more innings than Gonzalez in 2013. First, are you surprised that those numbers were that close to each other? Yes we realize 16 wins compared to 11 are not that close.
Let's dive a little deeper shall we. Tillman boasted a 1.221 WHIP, while allowing eight hits per nine innings, 1.4 home runs per nine innings, 3.0 walks per nine innings and struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings of work in 2013. In comparison, Gonzalez had a 1.226 WHIP, while allowing 8.2 hits per nine innings, 1.3 home runs per nine innings, 2.8 walks per nine innings and struck out 6.3 batters per nine innings.
So what do we see there? Tillman and Gonzalez's WHIPs are practically identical, while Tillman allows slightly fewer hits per nine innings and strikes out more, but Gonzalez allows fewer home runs and walks fewer hitters per nine innings of work. It may be an individual preference depending on who you are, but it would seem to most that you would prefer a starting pitcher that allows less homers and fewer walks.
Both Tillman and Gonzalez averaged just over six innings per start, which obviously are among the best on the Orioles pitching staff, and despite most of their numbers being very similar to each other, there were a couple stats that we found to be very overwhelmingly in Gonzalez's favor. In six September starts in 2013, Tillman posted a 1-3 record with a 4.12 ERA, while in five starts, Gonzalez posted a 3-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in September.
The Orioles averaged 4.6 runs per game in 2013, so naturally, we wanted to see how both pitchers fared when receiving run support between 3-5 runs as that seemed to be the number the Birds were normally around. Tillman posted a 3.63 ERA with a 7-4 record in 15 starts where the team scored 3-5 runs, while Gonzalez was 7-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 starts in the same situation.
In today's baseball world, wins by a pitcher are among the most bypassed statistics in the sport now because of the wide array of factors that go into it, and there is little question that many people see the 16 wins Tillman put up and immediately see him as the ace of the staff, and that is fair, but people need to realize and appreciate what Gonzalez brings to this rotation.
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