A lot of times in sports when trades are made they’re usually met with knee-jerk reactions. Observers tend to live in the present and judge the trade based on how it affects the team right now.
February 8, 2008 may go down as one of the most significant days in Baltimore Orioles franchise history. That was the day then President of Orioles Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail traded starting pitcher Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for Adam Jones, Kameron Mickolio, George Sherrill, Tony Butler, and Chris Tillman.
Bedard was coming off a 15-win season in 2006 and a 13-win season in 2007 when he also racked up 221 strikeouts and finished the year with a 3.16 ERA. At the time the no doubt ace of the Orioles.
Five years later the Orioles are reaping the benefits of Jones, now a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner who has averaged 21 home runs and 73 RBIs in six seasons in Baltimore. In 2013 he’s on pace to set new career highs in each of those categories.
Last season and in 2013, the Orioles have witnessed a breakout performance from Tillman.
After coming over from Seattle, Tillman bounced back and forth between the minor leagues and the majors. But in second half of 2012, Tillman became a steady performer for an unsteady O’s rotation.
In 15 starts last year Tillman went 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA all while holding opposing batters to a .207 average. He also had the lowest WHIP of all Oriole starters with 1.05.
Tillman’s outstanding outings have carried into this year and in July he was a late addition to the American League All-Star team.
Though an All-Star, Tillman still seems to fly somewhat under the radar. He has 14 wins, tied with the rejuvenated Bartolo Colon and division-rival Matt Moore for second most in Major League Baseball. Only AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer has more wins (16).
Though not a flashy power pitcher, the 25-year-old Tillman has been an effective and consistent presence in this season’s rotation.
In his 22 starts this year, Tillman is 14-3 with a 3.89 ERA and 109 strike outs. Only four times has Tillman allowed five or more earned runs and only twice has failed to last at least five innings.
In his starts the O’s average 5.59 runs in support — the third most in all of baseball. And that has translated into wins.
Tillman’s next likely start will be in his home state of California on Aug. 9 when the Orioles travel to San Francisco to face the defending World Series champion Giants.