Remember in 1975-'76 when Jimmy Carter ran for President and the running line was Jimmy who due to Carter being a relative unheard-of on the national political stage? (Let me be honest, I was born in January of 1981 so I don't remember that per se, however I am an avid student of history, especially Presidential politics.) That's exactly the sentiments that Oriole fans had when they heard of tonight's starter, Mitch Atkins, who's coming up from Norfolk to make his first major league start; Mitch who? Having said that, in making my rounds around the various blogs, message boards, etc, I think that most people can accept Atkins getting the nod tonight because it's a young kid (25) making his first start so it shows some progression. Notice that I said he was making his first start; I didn't say this would be his big league debut. Over the past two years Atkins made seven relief appearances with the Cubs, posting a 5.25 ERA. Atkins has also gon 3-6 this year in the Oriole minor league system, posting a 3.18 ERA.
On opening day back in April, the rotation was as follows: Guthrie, Matusz, Tilman, Britton, Arrieta, and Bergesen. (Matusz and Britton are italicized because Matusz was technically in the rotation on opening day. He was DL'd immediately following the game due to injury, and his place was taken by Zach Britton who made his major league debut.) Now...who knows what the rotation is? I believe it's some form of Guthrie, Britton, Arrieta, Jakubauskas, and now Mitch Atkins. Sheesh, there are more pitchers than characters in an episode of Looney Toons! The concerning thing is that Tilman and now Matusz are back in Norfolk "finding themselves." Bergesen's spent his fair share of time at triple-A as well, however at the very least he's back with the big league club now however in the pen.
First off, Chris Jakubauskas may well have done an admirable job in coming out of the bullpen and starting a few games, however he's not a starting pitcher. I wasn't in favor of using a reliever as a spot starter to begin with, because it causes too many holes. I can see what Buck Showalter is doing at this point; he's trying to get the team through to the all-star break next week whereby he can re-evaluate the rotation. The scary thing is the regression that's occured with this rotation. I'm not exactly sure what could have been done differently on the organization's part to keep this from happening. In the case of Chris Tilman, keep in mind that he probably wasn't supposed to start the season in the rotation as it was. He was only on the roster since Justin Duchscherer (remember him?) was and still is hurt. However again, is there anything that could have been done differently?
From the perspective of a "civilian" (ie-someone that doesn't play but watches and analyzes like there's no tomorrow), I'm not sure that they could have done much. So then does that indicate a lack of due dilligence in scouting or even coaching? I'm not sure I'm willing to go that far yet. Keep in mind that all of the national pundits and scouts have agreed that the moves the Orioles have made in recent years in terms of drafting and signing free agents (such as Guerrero, Lee, Tejada, etc) were good moves. Obviously nobody can predict injuries and even growing pains, and the Orioles have seen their share of those. My point is that I might agree that the scouting needs to be looked at if all of the national pundits said that they shouldn't have taken those guys. Not everyone can be wrong all at once.
I firmly believe that the likes of Matusz and even Tilman can be effective starters at the major league level. They just need to work on their "stuff" in Norfolk. Matusz needs to work on his command; the velocity will follow. Tilman is kind of the opposite. Again, I'd be more concerned about how things look starting next Thursday (coming out of the break) than anything else, because I presume that Showalter is reshuffling things around.