Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Young Arms in the Rotation

The blog has mentioned over and over that a key to how far the Orioles in 2010 and the future will hinge not solely on the offense, but the pitching.

So far, while Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie have been working out the kinks in their repertoire to prepare for Opening Day, the real beacon of hope is coming from the arms of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen.

Matusz, this spring as evidenced by his start against Philadelphia -- with their ‘A’ lineup – on Sunday looks more like a veteran on the mound than a youngster.

Although some guy who will eventually be playing down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway – um, Stephen Strasburg – has gotten the lion’s share of the hype concerning prospects, the media should not overlook Matusz.

He’ll be entering his first full year in the majors, and most expect big things from him. Obviously, it’s hard to say how Matusz will do this season; however, with a full season under his belt, and the potential he’s shown so far, it would not be impossible to think that he could win anywhere from 12 to 15 games.

As for Tillman, he got knocked around a bit last season, but his first go-round in Baltimore was indeed a learning experience. He’s looked good so far in Spring Training, looking far more consistent with his pitches on the mound and getting guys out.

For now, he’s the fifth starter if he doesn’t blow it. Tillman may be slightly behind when it comes to Matusz’s skill, but with his size, height and ability, there’s no reason to believe he cannot become a solid to better-than average major league pitcher.

The same could be said about Bergesen, whose year ended due to injury. While Bergesen may not have the physical gifts of Matusz or Tillman, he’s got something that’s critical – smarts on the mound.

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