The Baltimore Orioles had a starting pitcher make the 2013 All Star Game for the first time in what seems like forever, but Chris Tillman may have made the All Star team courtesy of some good luck. Tillman's second half performance may be an indicator that he could turn into that legitimate ace the team needs.
Tillman busted onto the scene in 2012 when he posted a 9-3 record with a 2.91 ERA and 1.047 WHIP after being called up and making 15 starts for the Orioles as they wound up making the postseason for the first time since 1997.
Entering the 2013 season, the team and fans were optimistic that Tillman may have finally realized his potential and would continue to improve. For the most part, Tillman did just that. Although his overall ERA of 3.71 and WHIP of 1.221 were higher than the numbers he posted in 2012, but he did so over 33 starts as opposed to just 15 and he went 16-7.
While those numbers are very respectable, they are not ace like stuff; however, his second half performance shows that he was able to make adjustments to counter-act the adjustments hitters were making to him.
In the first half of the season (pre All Star break) Tillman posted a 11-3 record with a 3.95 ERA, 1.352 WHIP, 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, 3.3 walks per nine innings and opponents hit .263 against him. Outside of the record, the other numbers are not eye popping and represent a decent number two starter or a good number three starter.
Flip the switch to the second half of the season and Tillman began to show he could very well end up being a legitimate ace. Tillman improved practically every statistic other than the win-loss record, which is the most over-hyped statistic for pitchers there is. He went 5-4 in the second half, but posted a 3.42 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.6 walks per nine innings, and opponents hit just .214 against him.
In addition, Tillman made 19 starts in the first half and 14 starts in the second half, and despite that, he struck out more hitters in the second half and threw just 17 fewer innings.
Those second half numbers represent a pitcher that could be on the brink of becoming a true ace. If Tillman can transform those second half numbers into a full season's work or even improve them, Baltimore may finally have an ace on its staff. Of course, he could go the other way, just as Jason Hammel did last season after a good 2012 season, or Erik Bedard did after leaving Baltimore, but one thing is for sure, Orioles' fans are hoping Tillman becomes that guy because the team is not going to sign one via free agency.
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