Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman has been scratched from Monday’s scheduled start for Triple-A Norfolk and is considered a leading candidate to start for Baltimore on Thursday. Tillman has pitched to a 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts for the Tides and the 24-year-old could slot in to the O’s rotation following Jake Arrieta on Wednesday.
Baltimore is expected to officially recall Steve Johnson prior to Monday’s series opener in Seattle to help bolster the bullpen, but the team will almost certainly need to make several roster moves over the next few days as it has only three starting pitchers listed in Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Arrieta. The Orioles will also need a starter for Friday, which lines up to be Triple-A Norfolk’s Zach Britton’s next start and –following Brian Matusz’s demotion on Sunday — executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette referenced Tillman and Britton as the primary internal candidates to help a struggling starting rotation.
Both Tillman and Britton have garnered positive reviews for their recent performance in Norfolk, and while the Orioles continue to keep an eye on the trade market, Duquette reiterated again Sunday his preference is to explore the team’s options in Triple-A first.
Matusz and right-hander Tommy Hunter –who was optioned on Saturday — would both need an injury situation to arise to be eligible to return from the Minors within 10 days. Long reliever Miguel Gonzalez is not a candidate to start either Thursday or Friday, although the team has used Dana Eveland for a spot start and could again if necessary.
Tillman is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA in 15 starts with 92 strikeouts and 30 walks over 89 1/3 innings pitched while Britton is 2-1 with a 4.96 ERA –with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks over 32 2/3 innings — in six starts at Triple-A. The 24-year-old Britton started the season on the disabled list and struggled after being optioned off rehab assignment, but is coming off a solid outing Sunday night in which he went six innings of two-run baseball (one earned) with seven strikeouts.