Tap-In Question: What's your take on Chris Tillman in 2016? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: What’s your take on Chris Tillman in 2016?

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Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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Welcome back to the Tap Room. There’s been some late nights around here recently with 10:05 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. starts.

That’s OK, we’ll pour for you at night and then give you something to chew on in the morning. Like a question about the Orioles’ top starting pitcher.

Earlier this year, I talked to a couple scouts about the Orioles, and both mentioned concerns about the team rotation. And one referred to right-hander Chris Tillman, the club’s No. 1 pitcher as “frustrating.” He said he’s been scouting Tillman for years and his reports are all over the place, because he often sees a different pitcher each time out.

Tillman, who I’ve known for seven years now and have as much respect for him as anyone in the clubhouse, called me on that piece, giving me a little grief for that “frustrating” line.

The truth is there is probably no one more frustrated by Tillman’s inconsistency in the past than Tillman, who is a fierce competitor and a harsh critic of himself. He knows what he is capable of, so when he can’t do it every start, it pains him, too.

I bring this up because Tillman is on a heck of a run. He allowed just two runs on three hits (one homer) and three walks in a seven-inning no decision against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night. His ERA sits at 2.61 in 10 starts, among the Top 10 in the AL.

He has now made seven straight quality starts, not allowing more than two earned runs in six of those seven outings. He is clearly the club’s most dependable starter right now, which is a huge relief to the Orioles after his 2015 season, in which he posted a 4.99 ERA.

The two seasons before that, Tillman was emerging as a top-of-the rotation starter, if not an ace, with an All Star nod in 2013 and a tremendous 3.34 ERA in 34 starts in 2014. But then he took a big step backward last year, bringing the “frustrating” cries again.

I’ve said it before and will continue to do so. I think the left ankle injury that hampered Tillman for a part of the season was a bigger deal than anyone knew. He obviously felt like his team needed him down the stretch and he could pitch through it, but he didn’t have the same kind of finish on and control of his pitches in 2015. So I think this is the real Chris Tillman, though, of course, time will tell.

I guess what I’m asking here is if you think last year was an aberration – and that what we are seeing now is what you are going to get from Tillman, for the most part, in 2016. Given how well the Orioles are doing and the fact that Tillman is currently 6-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA, you have to imagine he’ll go to his second All Star game if he keeps chugging along this way.

So do you think he’ll keep it up? Is this the Chris Tillman you expect now? Or are you waiting for that inconsistent streak to rise again and for the “frustration” level to creep back up?

Tap-In Question: What’s your take on Chris Tillman in 2016?

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Creatively_19

    May 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

    For some reason, people like to compare O’s pitchers to some of the very few Cy Young candidates out there each season with Tillman being no exception to that rule. Unfortunately, not every pitcher can be upper-upper-echelon quality. Is Tillman Chris Sale? Heck no. Is he Clayton Kershaw? Not even close. Is he Jake Arrieta? Lets not even go there. Tillman is a very capable pitcher and is also the leader of the Orioles rotation. This season, he’s excelled in those roles, again finding the success he had in 2014 and perhaps even building on it. This is probably the best we’ve seen him for any stretch of time, and if he can maintain this consistency he will likely be on track to be the O’s first 20 game winner since …. 1971. This is the Chris Tillman that you expect to see every 5 days, and I’m not waiting for his bottom to drop out, if anything I’m watching to see if his ceiling keeps rising.

  2. Dan Connolly

    May 25, 2016 at 9:30 am

    19: Interesting, well-said thoughts. Kind of what I was thinking, but am curious whether other fans feel that way. By the way, O’s last 20-game winner was Boddicker in 84 There have been 13 20-win seasons by an Oriole since the 1971 quartet. Palmer had 6 of those 13.

    • Creatively_19

      May 25, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Thanks Dan. Me and my quick internet searching stand corrected.

  3. 5brooks5

    May 25, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I hope and expect to see continued command of the fastball and the ability to use his secondary pitches any time in the count. I feel he has too much talent to be as inconsistent as he was last year.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 25, 2016 at 10:40 am

      I think you hit it, Brooks. With Tillman, and most pitchers, it’s mostly about fastball command. When he is hitting his spots with his fastball, everything else is that much more effective. And he’s done that, for the most part, in 2016. Like he did in 2014.

  4. Dante

    May 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Tillman is looking great. He’s confident and has great stuff. Looking forward to his continued success.

  5. AlaskanOsFan

    May 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Suprising that Moose never was a 20 game winner. We might have the chance for two if we could ever hit when KG pitches

    • Dan Connolly

      May 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      won 19 twice, 18 twice with O’s. But Moose didn’t get a 20-win season until his last, 2008 with the Yankees. Had a great year. Then retired.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm

        Yeah, well the Yankees gave him some run support … something I believe the O’s failed to do.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 25, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Tillman is a middle of the rotation pitcher who’s currently on a role. Unfortunately, he’s the best we currently have. Everybody is talking about the command of his fastball, but frankly, what is impressing me this year is his command of his over the top curveball along with a new found slider. I can’t remember him throwing it (the curve) nearly as well or as often as it seems he’s throwing it this year. Now if he can keep his head on straight, maybe he’ll prove that he’s a true #1 starter. We can only hope.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Role as in roll … where’s the grammar check in this thing?

      • Dan Connolly

        May 25, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        That’s with the paid version, I’m thinking. As for Chris, he’s always had a great curve; it’s just getting it over consistently. I agree. Looks real good right now.

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