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Orioles In Need Of Improvement From Struggling Right-Hander Chris Tillman

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I guess this site is meant only to be read on mobile devices, as it shows up fine in my smartphone but never on my PC. Seems like there would be a way to accommodate both audiences.

I can read it fine on my PC with google chrome.

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It shows up fine in Chrome. Must be blocked for you guys. Unfortunate.

So what happens now? Unfortunately for the Orioles, they don't have a lot of alternatives when it comes to Tillman. He's out of options, so they can't send him to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics. They could consider moving him to the bullpen for a spell, but that would be a drastic move, considering Tillman has never pitched in relief during his 132-game major league career.

Besides, the O's don't necessarily have a ready-made replacement for Tillman in the rotation if they were to bump him. Right-hander Kevin Gausman made his first start of the year in Toronto June 20, but was then optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, where the O's want him to make several starts so he can get stretched out. Righty Mike Wright fared no better against the Blue Jays than Tillman, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings June 19, and he, too, is now back at Norfolk after his ERA with the Orioles reached 3.92. In the midst of a pennant race, the Orioles might prefer the relative stability of the veteran Tillman instead of a rookie, such as Wright or righty Tyler Wilson.

At this point, the Orioles' best tactic is likely to keep putting Tillman on the mound and hope he improves. It's happened before. In 2014, after Tillman reached his nadir at the 13-start mark, he turned his season around from that point forward, beginning with four straight quality starts June 10-27. By season's end, he had strong overall numbers, finishing 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA during 34 starts.

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The problem isn't Tillman's velocity. He's throwing his fastball nearly 1 mph faster in 2015 (91.5) than he did in 2014 (90.8). Rather, Tillman's undoing has been his command. He's had trouble throwing strikes, averaging 1.39 strikeouts for every walk, down from his career 2.05 rate. Tillman has also been leaving pitches up in the zone, especially with his secondary offerings. As a result, opposing hitters are batting .300 or better against all of Tillman's pitches except the fastball.

Paul Folk

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At any rate, one of the key paragraphs from the article:

So what happens now? Unfortunately for the Orioles, they don't have a lot of alternatives when it comes to Tillman. He's out of options, so they can't send him to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics. They could consider moving him to the bullpen for a spell, but that would be a drastic move, considering Tillman has never pitched in relief during his 132-game major league career.
I think that pundits were saying this about Ubaldo last year: he's never (or rarely) pitched in relief during his career and you just cannot do this to a pitcher of his "stature." Guess what? Ubaldo pitched in relief. He's not a relief pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but the time in the pen was invaluable for Ubaldo's progress, at the end of last year and for the 2015 season. So some time in the pen could be invaluable for Tilly's career. This could make him a much better pitcher if he faces the demotion with the same grace that Ubaldo did.

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At any rate, one of the key paragraphs from the article: I think that pundits were saying this about Ubaldo last year: he's never (or rarely) pitched in relief during his career and you just cannot do this to a pitcher of his "stature." Guess what? Ubaldo pitched in relief. He's not a relief pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but the time in the pen was invaluable for Ubaldo's progress, at the end of last year and for the 2015 season. So some time in the pen could be invaluable for Tilly's career. This could make him a much better pitcher if he faces the demotion with the same grace that Ubaldo did.

The difference there is they simplified Jiminez in his delivery. Tillman had that done a long time ago. He's not repeating it consistently and it creates problems with his command. If there is an issue with his back it may contribute, but as others have noted in various threads his velocity is up this year so I'm not sure I buy that.

I was looking at his Pitchf/x numbers and he threw the cutter at a much higher rate last year compared to this year. In fact, starting in 2012 he threw many more (13.1%, 12.4% in 2013, and 10% last year). How much less this year? All the way down to 5.2%. These numbers didn't approach his numbers for the CU or knuckle curve as they classify it now, but it was there approaching the CH ( 11.7% last year ).

While I don't think this solves his main issue by a long shot it's puzzling especially as PBO notes he has had less command of his secondary pitches. Having another pitch he's thrown in the past could be a big help if the other two aren't working, but he has to throw it.

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The difference there is they simplified Jiminez in his delivery. Tillman had that done a long time ago. He's not repeating it consistently and it creates problems with his command. If there is an issue with his back it may contribute, but as others have noted in various threads his velocity is up this year so I'm not sure I buy that.

I was looking at his Pitchf/x numbers and he threw the cutter at a much higher rate last year compared to this year. In fact, starting in 2012 he threw many more (13.1%, 12.4% in 2013, and 10% last year). How much less this year? All the way down to 5.2%. These numbers didn't approach his numbers for the CU or knuckle curve as they classify it now, but it was there approaching the CH ( 11.7% last year ).

While I don't think this solves his main issue by a long shot it's puzzling especially as PBO notes he has had less command of his secondary pitches. Having another pitch he's thrown in the past could be a big help if the other two aren't working, but he has to throw it.

My point is that having some time in the pen with some coaching can help a lot with various problems, not just simplifying a delivery. Being a long man out of the pen, especially one who doesn't pitch in high leverage situations means that there isn't the pressure of having to go out there once every 5 days. So a pitcher who needs help can use just about all of his concentration on getting that help from the coaches, with only occasional low-pressure outings.

This process most likely will take some time. It means an investment on a guy who will work hard and who will be here for a while. The only other solution would be to non-tender him and let some other team fix his problems. I'd rather keep him. He's been decent in the past and he should be able to learn to be serviceable again.

Edited by Nevermore

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