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Fangraphs: How Tillman Became A Top-Ten Starter In July


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http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/how-chris-tillman-became-a-top-ten-starter-in-july/

But when Tillman spent July dealing, he did so in a way he hadn’t done before in the big leagues. Underneath that luck were some adjustments that might be a big deal for the pitcher going forward.
He has a new sinker to thank. “The beginning of the year hadn’t gone as I’d hoped, and I felt like I needed a pitch that, if I needed a ground ball, I could go get it,” Tillman told me before a game against the Athletics this week. That sinker has four inches more arm-side movement than his four-seamer, and he’s currently getting 63% ground-balls with it.
He changed his change. He switched from the two-seam changeup grip to the four-seam grip in order to “spin it like my fastball” as the pitcher put it. That, paired with an effort to slow the pitch down, has improved the pitch. “Early on, it was a little firm — 84, 86, 87 — that’s too hard for a changeup. Once I slowed it down, it’s gotten better.”

Not only has he lost about a tick and a half on the changeup, but he’s added drop without sacrificing much fade. Now he’s getting the most drop of his career on the pitch, according to BrooksBaseball:

Very nice to see Chris making adjustments during the course of the season.

With a league-best rise ball, and now a sinker that rates as above-average in both horizontal movement and results, and an improved changeup, there’s a lot we can believe about July’s work.
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In terms of runs scored

White Sox 29th

Atlanta 26th

Tampa Bay 25th

Washington 16th

Detroit 6th

So one good offense. One average. Three of the worst six offensive teams in baseball. But I'm glad he had a good month. Hope he has a big August.

Angels 13th

A's 12th

Twins 14th

KC 10th

Texas 5th

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Seemed like I noticed an up tick in fastball velocity....or atleast more consistently low 90s lately as well.

One thing that is cool with Tillman is that he really seems to master multiple pitches pretty quickly. At first in 08 he was a fb/cb guy who needed a third pitch. Since then we watched him master the changeup, slider and now 2S all of which are atleast average.

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Seemed like I noticed an up tick in fastball velocity....or atleast more consistently low 90s lately as well.

One thing that is cool with Tillman is that he really seems to master multiple pitches pretty quickly. At first in 08 he was a fb/cb guy who needed a third pitch. Since then we watched him master the changeup, slider and now 2S all of which are atleast average.

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His average FB velocity is 91.6 up from 90.8 last year and a slight tick up from his career number of 91.2 per FG. However, it means nothing without the improvement in his command.

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His average FB velocity is 91.6 up from 90.8 last year and a slight tick up from his career number of 91.2 per FG. However, it means nothing without the improvement in his command.

I agree in regards to command.

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His average FB velocity is 91.6 up from 90.8 last year and a slight tick up from his career number of 91.2 per FG. However, it means nothing without the improvement in his command.

I wonder if throwing both the 'rising' fastball and the sinker has given him more confidence to throw the ball over the plate. Hitters are unable to just wait for one fastball, so he doesn't have to be right on the corners with either of them.

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I wonder if throwing both the 'rising' fastball and the sinker has given him more confidence to throw the ball over the plate. Hitters are unable to just wait for one fastball, so he doesn't have to be right on the corners with either of them.

He's had better command to both sides and of his CH and CU. You can't live in the middle hoping to confuse MLB hitters. He decreased the velocity with which he was throwing CU which seems to have allowed him to get a tighter spin with that improved command. He said that a decrease in velo was key for the progression of the CH as well.

The best thing about the two seams FB is the improvement in his GB rate and that may have led to an increase his confidence. It has to be a better feeling knowing you're inducing weak contact as opposed to the alternative.

The feeling I've had about Chris since they brought him up in 2012 is he makes small adjustments in season if something isn't working out and that's a good sign. The addition of a new pitch in the middle of a season tells us he isn't satisfied with the results he had either. I doubt it's something he just came up with, more than likely he's been working on it a while until it came to a point where the timing was right to use it in a game.

He may not be a number one but his pedigree is little higher than that of everyone we have except Gausman in my mind.

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He's had better command to both sides and of his CH and CU. You can't live in the middle hoping to confuse MLB hitters. He decreased the velocity with which he was throwing CU which seems to have allowed him to get a tighter spin with that improved command. He said that a decrease in velo was key for the progression of the CH as well.

The best thing about the two seams FB is the improvement in his GB rate and that may have led to an increase his confidence. It has to be a better feeling knowing you're inducing weak contact as opposed to the alternative.

The feeling I've had about Chris since they brought him up in 2012 is he makes small adjustments in season if something isn't working out and that's a good sign. The addition of a new pitch in the middle of a season tells us he isn't satisfied with the results he had either. I doubt it's something he just came up with, more than likely he's been working on it a while until it came to a point where the timing was right to use it in a game.

He may not be a number one but his pedigree is little higher than that of everyone we have except Gausman in my mind.

Nice post, and tinkering with his pitches and making adjustments in season, reminds me some of Mussina.

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First 14 games of the season: 36 walks in 72 1/3 IP. Good for ~4.5 BB/9

Last 6 games: 6 walks in 41 1/3 IP. 1.3 BB/9

I think that's the biggest thing. His control is back. His BB/9 for this year (3.3) is now in line with his career numbers (3.2). His 2012 (2.5) and 2014 (2.9) were his best years. If he gets his control back, he'll be back to being a stud for the O's.

Hopefully his ankle won't affect him going forward.

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