For Orioles fans, this is probably a matchup they only hope to see during exhibition games because it would be considered a huge blow to the franchise if the team lost either one of these young guns. Starting pitchers Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman have only joined the organization recently, but have stepped up in big ways to become the top pitchers in the franchise.
While Tillman remains at Triple-A, he is off to a tremendous start - which includes throwing a no-hitter - and is expected to be arriving in Baltimore very soon. Matusz, already leading the rotation in Baltimore, is also pitching well and on pace for a breakout season. While I could easily write who I think is better long-term for the Orioles, I reached out to local Orioles reporters at the Baltimore Sun to find out who insiders think is better.
"I think the biggest difference between Matusz and Tillman is that Matusz is just way more polished," Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec said via email. "That's not meant as a negative toward Tillman by any means, but more as a credit to Matusz."
After three strong seasons at University of San Diego, Matusz was arguably the most polished pitcher in the draft. His mechanics were sound, his approach on the mound was comparable to some major leagues, and his secondary pitches were way advanced for any college pitcher.
Matusz has shown that he can consistently command all his pitches and throw them at any point in the count. He obviously has a put-away pitch in his changeup, and he spots a low 90's fastball. He also has the talent and intelligence to vary the speeds on his fastball to keep hitters off balance, and throw it to every part of the strike zone. And perhaps what I find most impressive about Matusz is that he figures out a way to get hitters out and get moderately deep in the game even when he's really feeling for it and doesn't have his good stuff. That says a lot about his intelligence and ability to make adjustments.
Take nothing away from Matusz, but this makes some people even more excited about Tillman. Tillman's secondary pitchers, when he's on, are lights out. It goes back to his consistency and ability to locate the strike zone. When he can locate his secondary pitches, it makes his fastball look even better. His no-hitter last week is an example of his light outs control. For TIllman, it is only a matter of time before he develops into a solid power pitcher.
"His curveball is a very good pitch and his fastball velocity has been a little higher than Matusz in the past. He's also worked tirelessly to develop a nice changeup. He's also a pretty high makeup guy," Zrebiec said. "Despite some of recent bouts with spotty command, I still think Tillman is going to be a very good big league pitcher. He does, however, have several things he needs to work on."
Tillman still has some work to do on his fastball, as well as honing his secondary pitchers. Orioles officials still think very highly of the righty and expect him to join the Orioles at some point this season.
Who do you think is going to better for the Orioles?