Chris Tillman’s Spring Training shoulder injury was expected to give the Baltimore Orioles problems in April.
Following right shoulder discomfort during Spring Training, the Orioles had made it known Tillman would not start the year in Baltimore.
Tillman would miss a fair amount of games against in-division teams, and that was a big blow given the Orioles divisional heavy schedule in April. Also, Tillman was 7-1 with a 3.49 ERA versus East teams in 2016, so missing the chance to carry that success over stung.
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The Orioles rotation was able to pick up the slack, standing strong through the first 29 games in Tillman’s absence.
Starters for the Orioles went 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA. Pitchers like Alec Asher, Jayson Aquino, and Tyler Wilson were called up from triple-A Norfolk, and all pitched well in their spot starts. Even though Kevin Gausman has struggled, a resurgence from Wade Miley and the dominance of Dylan Bundy had shown that the rotation had done a decent job while waiting for their ace to return.
As the rehab assignments went forward, Tillman’s performance declined
Tillman’s first rehab start came against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants double-A affiliate), where he pitched 2.2 innings, allowing only two hits. As intended, he threw less than 45 pitches, 42 to be exact and 25 strikes. He did allow one earned run, a solo home run to the second baseman, Carlos Garcia, in the first.
He did stay under 60 pitches, and Tillman’s final line revealed him tossing 3.2 innings, allowing five hits, three runs, and striking out three batters. Again, Tillman allowed a home run, a solo shot by center fielder Zach Collier.
Tillman’s third rehab outing was a bit longer than his previous two. Also, it was a bit rougher. Pitching five innings, Tillman gave up eight hits, four earned runs, walked just one and struck out two batters. Tillman did allow another home run, a 3rd-inning shot to catcher Taylor Gushue.
His final rehab start came this past Tuesday, with the triple-A affiliate Norfolk Tides. Tillman allowed five earned runs through five innings and had thrown 91 pitches, 52 for strikes. The downside here is that he allowed four home runs, three in the second inning alone.
A shorter than expected start, Chris Tillman’s first one was an effective one
In his first start of the season, Tillman threw five strong innings, allowed three hits, and did not give up a run. Also, Tillman allowed four walks, struck out three batters, and tosses 93 pitches–52 for strikes.
Roughly half of Tillman’s pitches were Fastballs, of the four-seam variety or a cutter, and the remaining were between his Changeup, a Slider, and a Knucklecurve.
His max velocity topped out at 92mph on a two Fastballs, the first in the first inning, and the other in the fifth.
Tillman did throw 13 Knucklecurve pitches, with just four resulting in an out.
All four of his strikeouts were on different pitches: an 83mph Changeup, an 86mph Fastball, a 74mph Knucklecurve and an 85mph Cutter.
Tillman recorded five fly outs, four groundouts, four strikeouts, and one line-drive reeled in by JJ Hardy.
Tillman also picked up his first victory of the season, as the Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox, 4-0.
Yesterday’s victory secured their first sweep of the White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards since May 4th through 6th, 1999.