With Chris Tillman making his debut in Wednesday’s 7-3 win over the Royals, Dean Hybl at Baltimore Sports Then and Now reviews how other Orioles prospects have fared in their respective first starts for the Birds.
Hybl’s rundown of McNally, Palmer, Flanagan, McGregor, Boddicker, Davis, Mussina, and Bergesen is an entertaining read, and it points to two key ways in which the game has changed.
First, many of the pitchers on this list went seven or more innings in their first starts during a time when the bullpen wasn’t used nearly as frequently as it is today. By comparison, not one of the O’s four rookie starters who won in their big league debut went more 5.2 innings the first time out (David Hernandez – 5 2/3 innings; Koji Uehara – 5 innings; Jason Berken – 5 innings; Brad Bergesen – 5.2 innings). Meanwhile, Tillman went 4.2 innings on Wednesday.
Second, the bullpen used to serve as a proving ground where future starters could learn to pitch against big league hitters. Palmer, Flanagan, McGregor, and Davis all spent time in the pen early in their careers.
Read an excerpt from Hybl’s post after the jump.
With Chris Tillman scheduled to make his first start in the majors, I thought it would be interesting to go back in time and see how some of the great pitchers in Baltimore Orioles history fared in their first appearance and first career start for the Birds.
In almost all cases, the results were pretty impressive and signs of future greatness to come.
Dave McNally – Career Debut: September 26, 1962
It is tough to do much better in a major league debut than left-hander Dave McNally.
In the final days of the 1962 season, the 19-year old McNally joined the big-league squad for one start against the Kansas City Athletics.
Displaying the form that would help him post four 20+ victory seasons and win 181 games in 13 seasons with the Orioles, McNally allowed only two hits with three walks and four shutouts. Baltimore won the game 3-0 for McNally’s first career win.
The performance helped McNally secure a spot on the team for 1963 and he posted a 7-8 record with 20 starts and 29 appearances.