Results tagged ‘ Chris Tillman ’

Baltimore Orioles: What exactly is the root of the problem?

You’re only as good as your next day’s starter; and Chris Tillman wasn’t very good last night for the Baltimore Orioles. Tillman’s line: 1.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 0 K. There were times it appeared Tillman wasn’t going to make it out of the first inning, in which he surrendered five runs. Tillman’s issue last night was throwing strikes; the only pitch he was able to get in the zone was his slider. And that was always on the outer part of the plate.

What to do with Tillman is an interesting question. If you listen to some fans talk, he should be DFA’d. But that’s no easy decision to make when you’re on the hook for his salary for the season, and he’d probably end up on another team. The bullpen also remains a possibility – perhaps you swap Tillman and Mike Wright. Ultimately the O’s don’t have to decide that now, as they have an off day on Monday. In theory they could just skip Tillman next time through the rotation.

Anaheim kept the pressure on, smacking hit after hit, and drawing base runners in anyway possible. The universe seems hellbent on teaching the Orioles that putting people on base is the name of the game – not hitting home runs. The Birds had eight hits last night, but they could only get three runners home. Manny Machado and Chris Davis had RBI-singles in the sixth, and Machado also plated a run by another RBI-single in the eighth.

But what exactly is going on with this team? There were times as late as last summer where they looked unstoppable – dating back to 2012. The likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Chris Tillman have been together for that amount of time. And there are others mixed in who have been here perhaps not quite as long but quite a few years. Again, what gives?

There are fans out there who are of the belief that we’re seeing the real Orioles now, and that they were pretenders all of that time. People have to be smart enough to realize that’s not the case. This was a good team for a great many years. Let’s put it this way; a diamond ring doesn’t turn brass overnight.

Are there problems in the clubhouse? Could be, but this is still a very tight-knit group. Part of it is injuries, which have done the Orioles no favors. Losing Jonathan Schoop (who begins a rehab assignment at double-A Bowie this weekend and could be activated on Tuesday) hurt their infield defense and their hitting. And obviously losing Zach Britton to a freak injury in the off season has affected the bullpen. And don’t underestimate the loss (both on the field and psychological) of J.J. Hardy. That plays a factor as well.

And there are other factors as well. I would submit that while signing Alex Cobb in spring training was a good move, there was also a mistake wrapped into that as well. They signed Cobb too late. He got into no games during Grapefruit League play, which has affected his play thus far early in the season. The same is true to a lesser degree with Andrew Cashner, who signed once camp had already begun.

However that aside, tried, true, and proven talent that’s regressing well beyond the mean. And it boggles the mind in a sense. This team was no-hit through five innings by a guy making his third big league start last night. Surely one would think that they could have done better than that. Yet they couldn’t. So what’s wrong with this team? Beats the heck out of me.

The O’s now head north up the California coastline to open up a three-game set in Oakland. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Daniel Mengden. Game time is set for just after 10 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Close but no cigar for Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman gave the Baltimore Orioles his best outing of the still young season this afternoon at Camden Yards. It wasn’t great, however it wasn’t a total disaster either. Tillman’s line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Chalk this one up as one of those “in between” type starts. Somewhere between good and poor, that is. Tillman had some good moments for sure. However they say that solo homers won’t beat you. That’s actually not true if you give up multiple solo shots. It really doesn’t matter if you give up three solo homers or one three-run homer; it’s still the same number of runs.

However Tillman also got no help from Oriole bats, who were stymied all day by Cleveland starter Clevinger. The Birds didn’t get their first hit of the game until the fourth inning. And that makes Tillman’s outing look worse than it really was.

The Orioles are still in a spot whereby they seem to have no margin for error. Tillman walked a hitter in the first, who later went to second on a base hit and third on a wild pitch. Brantley would later ground into a fielder’s choice, scoring that runner. The Orioles on the other hand are held to attest to almost every mistake in the games that they make. And as they say, nothing good ever happens after a walk.

Clevinger kept the O’s off the board, which means that the lone run the Tribe scored in the first inning in theory would have been enough. Cleveland got a solo homer from Gomes in the fourth, and Ramirez and Alonso in the sixth. And there was really nothing the O’s could do, given Clevinger’s performance.

Clevinger is a fast worker who seemed very happy to go along with the fact that the Orioles were an aggressive team who wasn’t very patient. And I think it’s probably a situation whereby the Orioles all but out-thought themselves. Clevinger was pitching-to-contact, and I suspect that the game plan after awhile was to just keep putting the ball in play. And while they did get a base runner on an error at one point, in putting the ball in play the O’s kept hitting it to Cleveland infielders.

The Orioles kept Trey Mancini out of today’s lineup, and he could miss a few extra days as well. His CT scan came back clean, but the O’s wanted to be sure his knee wasn’t cut down to the bone. Mancini on his injury (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

It’s really sore today. Just four inches or so under the wall that isn’t padded is where my knee hit. It obviously doesn’t feel too good, but luckily avoided anything too serious there, like no tears, no break. I just had to get a couple stitches and it’s just really swollen today and it’s tough to bend my knee, but I’m hoping within a couple days it will be good

The series continues tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Kevin Gausman gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Four-run first inning sinks Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman put the Baltimore Orioles in a pickle last night. Not just with regard to last night’s game, but moving forward as well. Series’ at Fenway Park aren’t easy on visiting teams. The fact that Tillman made an early exit from the game could tax the bullpen going forward. Tillman’s line: 2.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 0 K.

The O’s took an early 1-0 lead thanks to Adam Jones sac fly-RBI. But that’s as close as the Birds got. Boston would tie the game in the bottom of the first with a sac fly-RBI of their own, and then Nunez’s three-run homer would give them a quick 4-1 lead.

Betts’ RBI-double in the second would add to Boston’s lead, and after hitting a batter to load the bases with nobody out in the third, Tillman would hit the showers. A run would score after he left on a wild pitch, which closed the book on Chris Tillman for the game. Tillman wasn’t fooling anyone during his outing, and as a result was asked after the game if perhaps his problems  were stemming from issues with his mechanics (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I mean, there might be. It didn’t feel like it. I felt like my last start was worse mechanically than this one. It comes down to execution. When you miss with the first one, you’ve got to try to get back into the count and you fight an uphill battle at that point, especially against a team like this. You’ve got to stay ahead and work with the count in your favor.

The good news is that the Orioles’ ‘pen really stepped up and held Boston at bay after that. Boston would scorer once more on a wild pitch in the sixth, which really just drives home the point that if you get runners on base good things might happen. The Birds would net two more runs in the seventh on Machado’s two-RBI double, but Boston shut them down other than that.

To add injury to insult, the Orioles lifted Jonathan Schoop from the game in the seventh inning after he felt a twinge in his side while swinging. This according to manager Buck Showalter:

He had some discomfort in his side and we decided to get him out of there to be on the safe side. That last swing he took.

While Schoop is struggling a bit at the plate, the O’s don’t want to lose him. According to the Orioles last night, his status in the lineup today is very much in question. It’s definitely something to watch.

The series continues this afternoon at Fenway Park. Alex Cobb will make his Orioles’ debut and first start of the season, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Hector Velazquez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles head to the Fens for the weekend

The Baltimore Orioles will make their maiden voyage to Fenway Park (or “Pahk”) in Boston this weekend as they get set for a weekend showdown with the Boston Red Sox. Boston of course is fresh off of taking two-of-three from New York this week, in a series that featured multiple theatrics. The O’s of course dropped two-of-three to Toronto at home this week, but hope to rebound in Boston.

The Birds had their own dust-up with Boston last year under somewhat similar circumstances. As I said yesterday, the difference is that the Machado slide on Pedroia was a hard slide, but clean. The Austin slide was dirty. Granted that’s my view, but sliding in with your spikes up is a big no-no.

And the situation between Boston and New York isn’t over with yet. The teams have 16 more meetings this year. And Boston never forgets. So…based on what happened over the weekend, will their memories of last year creep up this weekend with the Orioles? One would hope not.

Needless to say, this is a big early-season series at Fenway Park for the Birds. You hope for a split; but we also said that last weekend in the Bronx. So, could the Birds take three-of-four from Boston? The answer of course is yes – if they perform at a similar level as they did last weekend.

This is a bit of a strange series in that it includes Monday’s Patriot’s Day game, which begins at 11 AM. A few years ago the Orioles played a series like this one, and it included a Sunday Night game on ESPN, AND the Patriot’s Day matinee. 11 AM is a rough time for a game at any point, however especially after a night game the day before. Perhaps not so much after a 1 PM game on Sunday, as is the case this year.

Chris Tillman gets the start in the first game of the series tonight. He’ll be opposed by Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Walks haunt Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman posted a much better effort for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Yankee Stadium than last time out. He had his struggles in this one, but ultimately he put the Orioles in a spot to win following a marathon game on Friday night. Tillman’s line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Again, he wasn’t perfect. The Orioles need him to go deeper into the games. But he pitched better than the numbers indicate. Tillman gave up two early runs in the second on a two-RBI single by Gardener, however had the ball not ticked off of Chris Davis‘ glove, odds are two don’t score.

But the Orioles came right back. Manny Machado smacked a two-RBI double in the third, and Pedro Alvarez an RBI-double in the fourth. And before you know it, Tillman and the O’s held a 3-2 lead.

However Tillman issued walks in the last of the fifth and the sixth. Both led to New York runs. Judge would bat in a run on a ground out in the fifth inning, and Andujar’s sac fly-RBI would give New York the lead on the last of the sixth. Both runs came off of walks, the one in the sixth inning coming after a lead off walk.

The Orioles have to cut down on free passes if they’re going to be successful this season. That’s been their bugaboo for some time. Now I will say that neither Tillman nor any subsequent Oriole pitcher was given the benefit of the doubt on borderline pitches. They were all called balls. But when you’re giving the impression of nibbling, you aren’t going to get those calls.

Romine would add an RBI-single later in the sixth. Judge’s RBI-double would then run the score to 6-3 in favor of New York. Austin would add a two-RBI single as well, running the final to 8-3. This is a tough game to lose for the O’s because of the quick turnaround after last night. However the good news is that they’re still in good shape to take the series tomorrow afternoon.

Incidentally, I made mention of a few borderline pitches that were called balls against Oriole pitching. First off keep in mind that balls and strikes are judgement calls. The idea is that you want the umpire to be consistent, and for the most part he was. But when you’re trying to hit the black on the plate, you’re leaving things open to interpretation.

The series finale is tomorrow from Yankee Stadium. Mike Wright Jr. gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles drop another as Chris Tillman falters

At some point you have to figure that the pendulum will swing back in the Baltimore Orioles’ direction. There’s A LOT of season to play – and by that, I mean there are 158 games left. However tonight wasn’t the time for the law of averages to even things out, and Chris Tillman apparently wasn’t the pitcher to do it. Tillman’s line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 0 K.

Tillman was up in the strike zone for most of the night. And that’s a really dangerous place to be against a team that’s perfectly happy hitting the ball where it’s pitched. And that’s what Houston does. Now one thing that isn’t Chris Tillman’s fault is the Orioles’ offensive output – which was non-existent for the second straight game.

Back-to-back doubles in the first inning set the tone for the game, resulting in an RBI-double by Bregman. However Tillman showed some flashes of settling down after that point. He was still up in the zone, however he was also able to induce guys to chase some of those pitches. Tillman put up goose eggs in the runs column in both the second and third innings.

However the fourth did Tillman in. A Gaonzalez solo homer, a Fischer RBI-triple, and a Springer RBI-single gave Houston a 4-0 lead. Altuve would add an RBI-double in the sixth, and Fischer a sac fly-RBI in the seventh. At the end of the day, the Birds  were almost shut out for the second consecutive game. I say almost, because the O’s did get on the board in the ninth on a Trey Mancini solo homer.

It’s tough to finger which is more pressing issue; pitching or hitting. I would submit…neither at this point. We’re four games in, folks. Consider that; four games in! Now I’m not going to suggest that those four games have been things of beauty (with the exception of perhaps the first one), however 2.5% of the year a season does not make.

This is not to say that the O’s don’t need to take notice of what’s going on. Four innings of shaky ball at best isn’t going to cut it out of the O’s. Now in fairness they did square some balls up against this Houston team tonight. The Houston defense just managed to make gold glove plays to rob the Birds of base hits.

Going back to Tillman, he needs to hit his spots. He also needs to work on his release point, which in my assessment was part of his issue. When he held onto the ball in his windup just a bit longer, he hit his spots perfectly. One positive point of this game was that at the tail end of the game we saw one or two things start to change. Chris Davis smacked his first hit of the season in the eighth, and of course Mancini’s aforementioned homer. But the Orioles will need more of this and then some to get things turned around.

The series continues this evening from Houston’s Minute Maid Park. Mike Wright gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Justin Verlander. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win behind a solid Chris Tillman effort

The Baltimore Orioles’ goal in this afternoon’s ballgame was to get a solid effort out of starter Chris Tillman. The Birds got that, and in the process also recorded a win over the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. Tillman’s line: 5.0 IP. 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

And it’s also worth mentioning that Tillman recorded give solid innings against a good Detroit lineup. Perhaps they aren’t what they were a few years ago, but they’re solid and Tillman kept them quiet most of the day (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

That is a good lineup. You definitely have to navigate them the right way. A couple of times there with guys in scoring position and an open base I was trying to pitch around some guys and they ended up getting themselves out. So I like when that happens. Because if I did pitch around them, we’d be talking about walks now.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the second on a Sardinas RBI-ground out, which extended to 2-0 one inning later after Pedro Alvarez‘s RBI-single. Detroit tried to make a game of it by coming to within one run (at 2-1) after an RBI-single. But the O’s weren’t about to be stopped on this day, as they got a two-run fifth inning homer from Jomar Reyes. Detroit would add a run in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough.

Again, wins and losses are still unimportant – for now. That phase of the season ends on Sunday afternoon. However the news of the day was Tillman’s start. Tillman was crisp, and he was effective during his five innings in the game today.

Following Tillman’s previous start, there was concern for his ability and his mindset going into the season. One hopes that some of those questions now abide. Where Tillman ends up in the rotation remains to be seen. But the fact is that the Birds need him to be effective this year, much like he was today.

The Birds will play three night games in this final week, which is good from the standpoint that most of the games during the regular season are at night. It gets the players into a routine of preparing for a night game. For what that’s worth.

The Orioles will return home to Sarasota tomorrow for an evening affair with the Tampa Rays, Nestor Cortes Jr., draws the starting assignment for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

Baltimore Orioles win despite Chris Tillman’s struggles

If this season’s going to amount to anything for the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Tillman‘s going to have to have a good year. Unfortunately 2018 got off to an unofficially inauspicious start for Tillman this afternoon with a tough first outing against Minnesota. Tillman’s line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 1 K.

The six walks are a huge issue, two of which were bases-loaded walks with nobody down to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. LaMarr would add a sac fly-RBI, and Granite a bunt RBI-single to run the score to 4-0. Tillman was responsible for all of those runners, although he was lifted after giving up the two walks with the bases loaded.

After the game, Tillman indicated that his misses were either above or below the strike zone. Obviously running into a very patient Minnesota team didn’t help (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I didn’t really feel like I was fighting anything. I had a lot of misses down below the zone. It wasn’t in and out or arm side or glove side. It was north and south, which you’d think would be an easy adjustment, but kept missing down, which, when it’s down they’re going to take more as opposed to when it’s elevated. I felt like there were a lot of guys who were waiting to see the ball up and when they didn’t, more times than not took it.

I mentioned above how Minnesota’s patient. Keep in mind that they’re a small ball team. Whereas had Tillman been pitching against New York or Boston today (slugging teams), that result might have been different. But to a team like Minnesota, if they walk in one run that means their opponent has to score two to beat them. Same is true with a sac fly or an RBI on a bunt.

And luckily for the Orioles, they did score two – and then some. Pedro Alvarez smacked an RBI-single in the fourth the cut the Minnesota lead to 4-1. One inning later, the Birds found themselves within one run as Austin Wynns‘ two-run homer cut the Minnesota lead to 4-3. A Manny Machado RBI-single tied the game at four, however Minnesota did get get the lead back on an RBI-double in the last of the fifth.

But keep in mind…these Orioles are a power-hitting club. Whether it’s regular players, reserves, or Rule 5 guys. Anthony Santander‘s two-run homer in the seventh put the Birds in the lead at 6-5. And it’s moments like that which make me believe that power-hitting is the way to go in this game. Basically, AL East baseball. It’s a lot more efficient than piecemealing runs together here and there.

Reuben Tejada would add an RBI-single in the seventh to run the final to 7-5, as the Birds won for the fifth consecutive game. For what it’s worth, that includes a “doubleheader” of sorts, with this past Sunday being a split squad day. The Oriole victory also snapped a five-game winning streak for Minnesota.

So the question is whether or not we saw Chris Tillman today, or if we’ll see him steadily improve as the end of camp draws near. That outing can’t have sat well with the coaching staff with the Orioles set to break camp two weeks from yesterday. We’ve seen pitchers and field players come along big time from the beginning of camp to this point in spring training. The question is whether or not enough time remains for Tillman to do the same before the beginning of the regular season.

The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow for their first game this spring against the New York Yankees. Miguel Castro gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Chance Adams. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles re-sign Chris Tillman

The Baltimore Orioles yesterday announced another free agent pitcher signing – technically. RHP Chris Tillman is returning to the O’s, after signing a one-year major league contract. Tillman took his physical yesterday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

The contract guarantees Tillman $3 million in base salary in 2018. Through other bonus’ and incentives, he could earn up to an additional $7 million. Ultimately this is a good move for the Orioles because it comes cheap, and both sides appear confident that he can have a comeback-type of year.

It also adds one more name to the rotation. And I’ve said from the beginning that Tillman would end up back in Baltimore. This move should come as no surprise to anyone. So as I said, this is technically a free agent signing. But in reality it’s a continuation of Tillman’s stint with the O’s.

That brings the O’s to four starters in camp. And I think you can probably get away with finding one starter as the Grapefruit League schedule progresses. Two or three to fill out the roster might have been a challenge. But odds are someone will find their way into the rotation by standing out in spring training. For the record however, the O’s only need four starters through the first week of the season.

Baltimore Orioles destined to get Chris Tillman back?

Chris Tillman, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, is still a free agent. Many industry people believe that he’ll end up back in Balimore – at least for 2018. Tillman of course is coming off a rather disappointing season, but one in which he was never 100% healthy. The market hasn’t exactly developed on Tillman to this point.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be back. However the Orioles did allow him to work out and attend their annual mini-camp in Sarasota during the first week of January. I suspect that if there wasn’t a serious push to keep him in the organization they wouldn’t have done that. But who knows?

The Birds are obviously waiting as long as they can so as to avoid having to pay Tillman top dollar. The longer the wait, the more the price presumably comes down. Tillman could even end up a guy who might sign a minor league deal. That would be ideal for an Orioles team that looks for value as opposed to a big splash. Tillman on a one-year deal worth $1 million or so (maybe plus incentives) would certainly be value.

However that’s also a risky game to play. At some point someone will sign Tillman – meaning that the rug could always be yanked out from under the Orioles. It’s kind of like waiting until that optimal moment to ask someone to the prom. If you want too long, even if it’s “understood” that the person you’re asking is the person you’re asking, someone else might jump in. Not that I speak from experience there or anything…

%d bloggers like this: