5th Starter to be announced Tuesday

David Hernandez.jpg

tillman.jpg

Although Chris
Tillman
and David Hernandez are slated
to make one more spring start, on Thursday and Friday, respectively, by this
time tomorrow we should know who will be the Orioles fifth starter.

Manager Dave Trembley said the competition is down to two
guys, which I had already blogged about earlier this week. With Koji Uehara’s move to the
disabled list eminent
, Jason
Berken
should make the Opening Day bullpen as the team’s second long man.

I also wrote earlier this week about Hernandez
replacing Tillman
as the frontrunner to win the spot. I stand by that.

To his credit, Hernandez, who likely knows whether or not he’s
on the team, told me he hasn’t been informed one way or the other.

“It’s a big secret,” he said with a smile.

Hernandez has thrust his name to the fifth-starter forefront
with his recent outings. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he
faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six
strikeouts. He lowered his spring ERA to a 3.00 in the process, and impressed
Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams — including
a bases-loaded, no-out scenario in the fourth.

To his credit, Tillman has said all
along that he has approached this spring as a situation he must win, rather
than have it handed to him. The 21-year-old was visibly frustrated with
Friday’s performance, which was an 88-pitch outing that yielded two runs on
four walks and four hits. It’s worth noting that Tillman’s struggles came
against a Minnesota lineup that didn’t have the power bats of Justin Morneau
and Joe Mauer, two Twins who would certainly be in a regular-season game.

In five spring games, Tillman has
a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings. His
strikeout-to-walk ratio (9K/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given
the fact that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off and they
won’t carry that extra 13th pitcher.

Trembley said prior to Monday’s game that the decision will come Tuesday, so both guys will know where they stand in the organization for their final start.

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