For Chris Tillman, 2014 has been a tale of two seasons — and we’re only halfway through May. Over his first three starts, Tillman posted a 0.84 ERA and limited batters to a .188 average against. He walked just three and struck out 15. Coming into his start on Sunday, Tillman’s ERA was 6.75 and opponents were hitting .297 against him over his last four starts.
On Sunday, the Astros (THE ASTROS!!!) roughed him up over 5 innings, he surrendered three earned runs, walked five and struck out three. He threw 105 (freaking) pitches.
What’s the deal? Though I’m not sure what’s causing it, Tillman’s fastball velocity is down. Check it out:
He went from throwing his fastball at an average velocity of 94.22 MPH on Opening Day, down to 92.86 MPH on April 6. Now he’s hovering around 90-91, which is actually more around his career average (91.2 heading into Sunday).
Interestingly, this sort of fluctuation isn’t that uncommon for Tillman. Check out his velocity spikes from 2013:
Just like 2014, Tillman started last year hovering around 93 MPH, but dipped down to 90-91 at various points throughout the season.
Tip of the cap to Avi Miller for pointing this out on Twitter.