If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know a few standard things; I’m a big fan of Rangers prospect Randy Henry, I’m not a fan of Jose Valverde or LeBron James, I was a mainstay advocate for Mike Gonzalez, and I have never been a fan of Chris Tillman.
Chris Tillman got the callup yesterday to pitch for the Orioles after spending all of 2012 so far at AAA Norfolk. There is no need to detail his stats and such, as every Orioles reports did so all day on July 4th. The stats that come to mind for me are his 2010 and ’11 numbers:
2010 – 11 GS, 53.2 IP, 5.87 ERA
2011 – 13 GS, 62 IP, 5.52 ERA
That’s an average of 4.8 innings per start in both of those seasons.
What Tillman’s 8.1 inning performance on Independence Day yesterday reminded me of were his 7/10/10 start in Texas and his 4/2/11 start in Tampa Bay. In both of those starts, his stats looked phenomenal, but his pitches were practically terrible and BABIP was strongly working in his favor.
Yes, Tillman came out yesterday with a 94 MPH heater to start the game, a speed that his fastball has never reached with the Orioles before. And yes, he was consistently clocked all day at 93-97 even through his last batter faced. His fastball definitely had a bit more movement on it as opposed to the straight line he would draw with it in years past. The curveball looked solid early on, and he flashed a couple of good ones throughout the start, but there were inconsistencies. His changeups were all over the place. He didn’t throw a single cutter.
Right as the game started, I tweeted about how his mechanics and pitch repertoire differences were extremely noticeable and positive improvements. The issue, later in the game, became watching him throw pitches effectively wild and catch a poor Mariners offense off guard. His fastball command, and the way he threw it all day, was the best and only positive I could really take out of the start. While he showed some good curveballs, we have seen that from him before, where he throws a few nasty breaking pitches to make up for the multiple others that weaved way out of the zone. Wieters had to frame the changeup all day to get any strike calls, but Tillman mostly floated it all around belt high and got very lucky that it wasn’t smashed.
The Mariners are 22nd in the majors in terms of runs scored. Not exactly a top notch lineup, especially with Jesus Montero being knocked out of the game early by a Robert Andino foul ball.
It will be interesting to see how Tillman can adjust during his next start to a potent and powerful Detroit Tigers lineup on July 15th. I can’t imagine that living up in the strike zone with mediocre stuff will cut it when Prince Fielder steps in the box.
By all means, Chris Tillman, prove me wrong.