There’s always a reason behind every problem. Whether it be physical or mental we shouldn’t settle for not knowing why a problem is exists.
Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez have been having issues all season long especially with maintaining consistent output when it’s their turn on the mound.
Orioles pitchers with supposedly less talent than these two like Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez have performed much better and on a more constant basis. Why is that the case? What is different this year in comparison to last year for Tillman and Jimenez?
For one thing, velocity. Both Tillman and Jimenez respectively have experienced a noticeable dip in velocity on their fastball while the other three pitchers on the staff have either remained consistent or in the case of Bud Norris, have experienced a rise in velocity.
The website brooksbaseball.com tracks every pitcher in Major League Baseball. You can find what pitches a pitcher is throwing, how much they are throwing it, how fast they are throwing it and many other trackable pieces of data that can tell the tale of why a pitcher is pitching a certain way.
Last season Chris Tillman’s four seam fastball was consistently hitting between 92-93 mph on the radar gun. This season, although it seems like a relatively minor dip, he is hitting 90-91 mph are on the radar gun.
Ubaldo Jimenez’s fastball at the end of last season was averaging 93.52 mph while this month Ubaldo is averaging 91.87 mph on that same fastball.
On the other hand Bud Norris has been the Orioles best starting pitcher this season and his velocity has gone up from 93.77 mph on his fastball at the end of last season to 94.54 this month and over 94 mph in both April and May.
Chen and Gonzalez’s fastballs have remained the same as Chen has continued to hover around 93 mph with his fastball and Gonzalez has stayed around 92 mph his entire career.
A pitcher who can maintain velocity on his fastball is gonna pitch better than the pitcher who’s fastball is losing velocity. It’s pretty simple. If Tillman and Jimenez want to get back to where they once were or at least attempt to right the ship, they need to figure out why their velocity is down and try to fix it.
Jimenez is 30 and as a pitcher ages their arm ages with them. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Jimenez’s velocity is decreased as it’s been decreasing steadily over the past few years. What’s surprising is that a young pitcher like Chris Tillman, who’s never had a dominant fastball like Jimenez, is already experiencing a decrease in velocity significant enough for him for hitters to smack him around a lot more than they did last year.
Is he injured? He’s vehemently denied having any arm troubles many times this season. Are his mechanics messed up? Possibly. His fastball has diminished velocity and he’s leaving a lot of pitches high in the strike zone this season so maybe his mechanics are off.
If this is the case, Dave Wallace, this is your time to shine! You were brought in this offseason and there were talks that Wallace could be the “most important acquisition of the offseason”. It’s time for him to put up or shut up. If the Orioles are to make a legitimate playoff push they need Tillman and Jimenez to get themselves straightened out and Wallace will be a big factor in whether they are able to do that.
If Tillman and Jimenez don’t start to get it figured out soon I anticipate one of them will have a “surprise” stint on the disabled list as Kevin Gausman is starting to look like he’s ready for a permanent stay with the Orioles.