Tillman's Orioles career appears over - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Tillman’s Orioles career appears over

TORONTO—After a 10.46 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles, and an uninspiring rehab stint, the likely end of Chris Tillman’s time in Baltimore came Friday when he was designated for assignment.

Tillman had been on the 10-day disabled list since May 11 and after he spent the maximum 30 days in rehab, the Orioles decided he couldn’t help them now.

“We’re going to turn our attention to the younger players with the new direction of the club,” Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said.

“We offered Chris the opportunity to stay in the organization, and he’s considering it.”

The Orioles are paying Tillman $3 million this season, and he could choose to continue playing at Triple-A Norfolk.

In Tillman’s six rehab starts, he had a 6.75 ERA at Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick and Norfolk.

“There were some good things. There were some challenging things,” manager Buck Showalter said.

“It didn’t show that at the stage we were, he was showing enough things there that warrant taking [Tillman over Yefry Ramirez or Jimmy] Yacabonis.

“Talking with all the people that were with him through his rehab starts, we just thought this was the best direction to go, and I agree with it.”


From 2012-16, Tillman was a most dependable starter with a sterling 65-33 record. For a time, he had a winning percentage that was one of the best in club history.

But in 2017 and 2018, Tillman lost 10 of 12 decisions and had clearly lost what propelled him to those excellent records in the Orioles’ glory years.

“This guy was our ace pitcher and over the last two years, he hasn’t been able to return to that form, and we’re going to go in another direction,” Duquette said.

Showalter said that he, pitching coach Roger McDowell and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel tried to call Tillman Friday, but he wasn’t in the mood to talk.

“He’s got decisions to make, and I’m hoping it includes us,” Showalter said.  “I’d still like to continue down that road.”

Tillman and Adam Jones came to the Orioles in one of the best trades in team history. That February 2008 deal set the team up for years of success.

“It’s kind of a changing of the guard if you think about where we are now,” Zach Britton said. “We had a couple of good runs. We didn’t get as far as we wanted to a couple of those years. It’s kind of a new era. Hopefully, Tilly can get back to that level of performance he wants to get to. Maybe he’ll stay in Norfolk.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    July 21, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Tillman was a good pitcher during most of his tenure here. He was underrated at times but was a big part of the team’s success during 2012 – 2016. His shoulder injury took miles off his fb as well as control. I wish him the best success in the future.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Good pitcher. It’s a shame his career seems to have come to it’s end considering he’s still relatively young. Who knows, maybe it’s not over for him yet. Good luck Mr. Tillman, you gave the city your best.

  3. Rich Dubroff

    July 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Nice to read these comments. Tillman was always a favorite to cover, always honest.

  4. boss61

    July 21, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I really liked Tillman. His rise, and fall, sort of timed with the team as a whole. His start to 2016 was dominant – that Opening Day he was lights out until the rain came. He was the appropriate guy to start that wild card game in Toronto too. For people who say that his peripherals were less than his “ace’ status is a little unfair; the team played better with him on the mound.

    I too hope he accepts the minor league outright, but in his shoes I’d go home and play with my kids, count my money.

    Thanks for the memories, Chris.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 21, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      I’m sure Chris will appreciate your warm wishes, Boss.

  5. OsfansinWV

    July 21, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the good years Tilly. Had a nice run in Birdland. When that group of pitchers were coming up (Tillman,Arrieta,Britton and Matusz) I had hoped they would turn out like the Braves staff of the ‘90s. Wish him well in the future! Let’s turn this season around a little and make the final record look respectable! Let’s Go O’s!!

  6. JerseyOsFan

    July 21, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Sad to see the fall of a very good pitcher for the Birds during the successful years of this decade. Another song comes to mind… A change will do you good. All the best in the future.

  7. Rich Dubroff

    July 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Very refreshing to read the comments of everyone here who has nice things to say about a really nice guy.

    • boss61

      July 21, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Hopefully he might see this or be told how much his work was appreciated by so many of us. Might cushion the blow a little.

  8. Eldersburg Enigma

    July 21, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    “Maybe he’ll stay in Norfolk” does not sound like an organization committed to a rebuild.

  9. Ekim

    July 21, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    I saw him make some of his first starts at Bowie and became a fan of his right from his start with the organization. I really hoped that things would turn around for him. A really quality guy!

  10. Devereauxisunderit

    July 22, 2018 at 11:18 am

    It was a gamble to begin with, but a gamble worth making. And it’s clear the front office, who all know him much better than the fans, thought it could very well be a gamble that would pay off. He was a big part of making the O’s relevant again and for that the city should be grateful. Hope to see you remain with the club in some capacity Tilly!

  11. trevise-en

    July 23, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I was one in favor of the Orioles resigning Chris Tillman last offseason, hoping that 2017 was just an aberration.. Obviously, with the ineffective and unproductive performance in 2018, there are more issues involved than just luck and the Orioles unfortunate poor play.

    Still, being a relatively young man, hopefully he will eventually find a way to retool his repertoire and mechanics and get his career back on track. He’ll probably never again be what he once was, but reinvention may allow him to continue being a ML pitcher. (Perhaps by learning to throw a knuckleball.) Good luck Tilly!

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