Carroll County Times

Orioles Analysis: Tillman can still join 20-win club

Chris Tillman hasn't had the best of luck in his most recent starts.

If he had, he would be well on his way to becoming the first Baltimore Orioles pitcher to win 20 games since Mike Boddicker in 1984. Even though Tillman has been saddled with no-decisions his last two starts, he still might break the 20-win barrier.


The Orioles right-hander is 14-3. If he stays on turn in Baltimore's rotation, he will get eight more starts, at least, before season's end.

All season, Tillman has been the club's top pitcher. And he's had the best record on the team since he was recalled in July of last season. But he would need to maintain that success if there's going to be an Orioles 20-game winner for the first time in nearly 30 years.


However, even if Tillman pitches like one, he might not necessarily reach that plateau. For instance, his start Aug. 9 against the San Francisco Giants.

Tillman had his best stuff of the year, pitched eight one-run innings, and was in line for his 15th win of the season. But Jim Johnson blew the save when Tillman exited after throwing 112 pitches.

And then it happened again Wednesday. Tillman pitched well enough to once again pick up his 15th win, giving up a pair of runs in six innings, but Johnson again blew the save.

It did not spoil Tillman's chance at winning 20 games completely, though.

In 1984, Boddicker won his 15th game on August 18. He then won five of his last eight starts to become a 20-game winner.

Tillman will need a similar stretch. But the right-hander has been focused on just one thing all season - the Orioles winning games.

"Go out there, get as deep as you possibly can in the game and keep it close. Give your team a chance to win," Tillman said recently. "That's important as a starting pitcher."

With that formula, Tillman has had one of the more successful seasons by a Baltimore starter in recent memory. He became the first Oriole pitcher to win 13 games since Erik Bedard in 2007.


It can be argued he is deserving of winning even more. He has given up four or more runs in just five of his 24 starts.

He won six straight starts, all in June, and won 11 of 12 starts. And, he was named to his first All-Star team.

Had Tillman gotten off to a better start to 2013, he may even be nearing 20 wins now. He was winless in his first four starts of the season, and had just four wins at the end of May.

But then Tillman got into a rhythm, and has kept the team in games in starts where he doesn't even have his best stuff.

All from a starter who had a 5.58 ERA in his first 36 starts with the Orioles, spanning from 2009 to 2011, and had a 7-15 record.

If Tillman were to win 20 games, he would be just the fourth Oriole since 1980 to do so. Prior to 1980, Baltimore had many more.


The Orioles had four 20-game winners in 1971. They had 17 during the 1970s and four in the 1960s.

But as Baltimore got worse and worse, it became much harder for the team to win games, and in turn, it was tougher for their starters.

Now, Tillman may join the exclusive club. But he said he still wouldn't consider this the best season of his career, because he doesn't think that way.

"We've got a long way to go. I'm not looking at it that way right now," Tillman said. "We've got to keep going. It's not over yet."