Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hernandez or Tillman?

Opening Day is, mercifully, right around the corner and the Orioles roster is prety much set. Roberts is back at the top of the order; Reimold and Wieters are starting to hit; the bullpen fog is starting to clear; God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. But recently the fifth spot in the Orioles starting rotation has become a battleground.

From pretty much the beginning of camp everyone pretty much assumed that the starting rotation would feature Chris Tillman in the fifth slot. Tillman, part of the now legendary Bedard deal, is a fantastic young pitcher with great upside. He has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues but still has a lot to learn at the ML level.

Enter David Hernandez. Hernandez is three years older than the 21 year-old Tillman and made a name for himself in the Orioles' minor league system as a strike-out pitcher. Last year at AAA Norfolk Hernandez K'ed 79 batters in just over 57 innings, giving him a K/9 ratio over 12 - the reason that Hernandez got the call last summer.

While in the majors the two pitchers had similar stats. Both put up ERAs just over 5.40, both struck out about 6 batters per nine innings; both had unimpressive SO/BB ratios. They both played like young, high-talent pitchers that mixed struggles with flashes of brilliance.

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