No. 5 Starter Watch (II): Orioles

The Orioles have a No. 5 starter, as David Hernandez has outpitched Chris Tillman this month:

    Hernandez is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, three walks and 20 strikeouts. Tillman is 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA and has given up three homers and nine walks in 16 1/3 innings.--snip--

    Tillman contended his poor performance could be attributed in part to his desire to incorporate a cut fastball into his repertoire.

    "If I were to have stayed with my fastball, changeup, curveball, I think it would have been a totally different outcome," he said. "I was working on the cutter. I'm not saying where I would have been, but the results would have been different. But I'm excited, I think the cutter is going to help me."

    Tillman is expected to begin the season with Triple-A Norfolk.

    "I think consistency's the thing, throwing all my pitches for strikes," he said. "I want to focus on that cutter now; it's a new pitch and I want to see how that comes along. They were happy with the progression that the changeup had last year and they want to see that with the cutter, I think."

Well, that's the thing: Tillman might have pitched better without the cutter ... but somebody thought he needed the cutter to pitch successfully in the major leagues. Either way, it would have been almost impossible to top Hernandez's 20 strikeouts and three walks, which must rank among the most impressive totals for any starting pitcher this spring.

I just wrote about these guys a few days ago, so I won't rehash everything here. But it's struck me this spring that, for all the talk about nobody having enough pitching, a lot of teams have a No. 6 starter with real promise. The Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, Orioles, Padres, Rangers, Twins ... there are a lot of good young pitchers out there who aren't quite good enough yet to crack their team's rotation.