With pitchers and catchers reporting earlier this week, the 2017 MLB season officially began to the delight of fans. The Orioles, however, will start their season with some disappointing news. Starting pitcher Chris Tillman will likely miss opening day on April 3 due to setbacks with his shoulder injury recovery.
Manager Buck Showalter stated on Tuesday that Tillman is three weeks behind schedule after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in December. Barring any other setbacks, the Orioles would like to have Tillman placed on the new 10-day disabled list on March 30, making him eligible for an April 9 return.
Last season Tillman suffered from right shoulder bursitis, limiting his number of starts. The Orioles’ ace still finished the year with a 16-6 record and a 3.77 ERA. The absence of Tillman is going to make things very difficult for an Orioles rotation without much star power. Besides a lack of talent, there is very little depth in the Orioles rotation to deal with injury scenarios like this.
Looking back to last year, the Orioles started the 2016 season in a similar situation. Fellow starter Kevin Gausman was not in the rotation to start the season and the Orioles had to rely on inexperience, unproven pitchers to fill the void while they waited for him to return. Despite having a good record in April, the pitching was a glaring low point. Fans will have their fingers crossed that this does not happen again in 2017.
For the last three seasons Tillman has served as the opening day starter. This year the O’s will likely look to Kevin Gausman to make his first career opening day start when they host division opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays.