Baltimore Orioles: Why Not Tyler Wilson? WHY NOT?

With the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation rather significantly creeping out the entire fanbase and organization with their spring training performance so far, why should an up-and-coming starter like Tyler Wilson not be seriously considered?

It is NO exaggeration that the starters have been bad so far, apart from Kevin Gausman. The best that could be said for them is that they have been horribly inconsistent.

Heretofore I have been among the most patient and supportive of O’s writers and voices relative to the rotation, being less likely to lay all of the blame upon the rotation for the mediocre 2015 season. I continue to believe and assert that it is an oversimplification of the game of baseball to say that a team rises and fall on its starters — illustrated by the 2015 Royals (they of the World Series championship) and the 2014 Tigers who were knocked out of the playoffs quickly by our own boys in black and orange.

But this is difficult to defend: Miguel Gonzalez – 22.24, Yovani Gallardo – 16.62, Chris Tillman – 10.80, Ulbado Jimenez – 9.45.  Those are nice numbers to have if you are a wide receiver for the Ravens and counting average yard per catch; but for an ERA, they are almost too painful to type, let alone read.

“But it is early, and there is still time to put it together.”  Yep, I agree. Read my article from yesterday that even said this.

So I am not for deciding now to throw away any of the five presumptive starters. Each have track records that have earned them the opportunity to put it together. But I do think some others need to be sent to the hill even in the month of April if they prove to be more ready by opening day.

Primarily among those considerations is Tyler Wilson. Multiple times in this mostly daily column I have asked the question, “What does he have to prove that he has not already proven?”

Just yesterday, he brought order to the game against Toronto, relieving Tillman and throwing 3.1 scoreless innings. For the spring, he now has thrown 9.1 innings with a 2.89 ERA, allowing 11 hits, six strikeouts and zero walks. Clearly he is not pitching around people.

But it could be said, as it is often said, “Don’t fall in love with spring training statistics.”  Could he do the same in a regular season situation?

The answer looks to be “yes.”  In nine games last year with five as a starter, Wilson was 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 36 innings.  That is hardly being overwhelmed. What if all the O’s pitchers threw a 3.50 ERA? Well, in 2014 they combined for 3.61, and the Birds won 96 games.

But it could be said, as it is often said, “But the sample size is small.”  Yes, small, though not miniscule. But what can he do over a longer period of time?”

His AAA numbers for 2015 are decent, at least. Wilson was 5-5 in 17 starts with a 3.24 ERA and WHIP of 1.187.  Not lights-out, but good for a pitcher who throws to contact.

But it could be said, as it is often said, “But maybe he just had a good year in 2015.”  Wilson was the 2014 Orioles minor league Pitcher of the Year. I don’t think they give that away as a participation trophy to just encourage someone. And his overall minor league record is an ERA of 3.65 with a WHIP of 1.164.

Wilson is at this moment age 26 and a half. Again, the question I ask about this University of Virginia grad is, “What does he have to prove that he has not proven?”

The beat writers today are all quoting Showalter as (apparently) referencing the rotation when saying, “There’s some competition here that people haven’t grasped.”

Excellent. Glad to hear that, if it is true. And again, don’t take that to be as critical as it sounds. I’m not trashing Baltimore’s favorite son. But I do recognize in him the same strength that I have that can at times in the life of a leader become an inside-out weakness: being loyal to a fault. I don’t cut ties easily or quickly with people, even when they deserve it. Buck’s highly-developed loyalty factor can, at times, certainly appear to give more rope than is perhaps best for the organization. And again, I admire the heart that produces that trait.

So rather than name names of anyone who should go (since above I did say they have all earned a long period to work it out), I rather in this piece again simply ask what this sorta-young-but-not-actually-that-young man named Tyler Wilson has to show the Orioles that he has not already demonstrated.

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