Tillman optioned, Jakubauskas recalled
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has long attested that being in the Major Leagues isn’t an open-ended invitation for the team’s young starters, and Sunday’s pair of demotions –in Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman – spoke volumes of the O’s frustration in the lack of progress from either arm.
Seeking better results from their starting staff, the Orioles shook up their rotation and instead will use several upcoming off days to go with a four-man rotation for the foreseeable future. With Brian Matusz scheduled to be activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday the team won’t need a fifth starter until June 7, which could be filled with a spot start from Alfredo Simon, buying the team until June 18 to reevaluate Tillman and Bergesen.
“We need to pitch better,” Showalter said prior to Sunday’s game. “There comes a point where we got to get better there. Some things aren’t good enough. We had a pretty good sampling of things and if we are not pitching and taking the experience and making strides than we need to go back down to [Triple-A] Norfolk and work on it. Sometimes it’s just not good enough.”
Bergesen went 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) while Tillman went 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 starts. The Orioles promoted lefty Pedro Viola from Double-A Bowie to the bullpen in Bergesen’s place and right-hander Chris Jakubauskas will meet the team in Seattle to take Tillman’s spot.
Jakubauskas is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Norfolk and is fresh off seven innings of one-run baseball on Thursday night. He will serve as one of the team’s long men and while he’s a candidate to make June 7’s start, Simon is thought to be the leading choice.
The news to send Tillman to Norfolk will shuffle the Orioles rotation following Thursday’s off day, with Zach Britton starting Friday’s homestand opener followed by Jake Arrieta and Jeremy Guthrie. Matusz will make his season debut Wednesday in Seattle and follow up Guthrie on Monday. Like Bergesen, Tillman has struggled to find any consistency, frequently putting pressure on the Orioles bullpen by going five innings or fewer in five of his last six starts. The 25-year-old Bergesen posted just two quality stats and the Orioles won just one game he pitched in this year.
“I think one of the mistakes you make is thinking they don’t realize that. They know what’s good and what’s not,” Showalter said of Tillman and Bergesen. “They get it…I don’t have to remind them. Even though I have.”