Tatum, Hernandez In- Tillman, Moeller out

SARASOTA, Fla. — David Hernandez will be the Orioles’ fifth starter, a move that was made official before Tuesday’s game. Hernandez’s primary competition, Chris Tillman, will open the year in Triple-A.

Craig Tatum also won the backup catcher’s spot, leaving veteran Chad
Moeller to ponder whether to accept a Minor League assignment.

Although Tillman opened camp considered the front-runner, Hernandez thrust his name into fifth-starter contention 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 manager Dave Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams — including a bases-loaded, no-out scenario in the fourth. Hernandez hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 8 2/3 innings.

Although he started the spring pitching out of the bullpen, Hernandez capitalized on the opportunities he was given to start. He made his first appearance as a starter on March 16, and is 1-1 in two official Grapefruit League starts, not including a 75-pitch outing in a Minor League game. In 15 innings, Hernandez has allowed five earned runs, and he has 20 strikeouts to three walks.

In five spring games, Tillman had a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings.The 21-year-old’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (9K/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off, and they won’t carry a 13th pitcher on the team.

The third candidate for the job, Jason Berken, is expected to make the Opening Day roster in place of injured Koji Uehara, and will likely be the Orioles second long-inning man.

1 Comment

I’m not sure that taking Tatum over Moeller is the right decision. The backup catcher plays maybe once a week so how much value does his ability to throw out runners really have? Just watching Tillman struggle while working with Tatum in his last start should give the front office pause. I am really concerned that there is going to be no veteran for the young pitchers and Weiters to bounce things off of. When the Tigers were trying to turn their team around with young pitching, who did they look to for their catching? Pudge. An experienced catcher. I’m worried that there could be issues with the staff moving forward.

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