Tag Archive | "Chris Tillman"

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 4-0 win over White Sox

Posted on 07 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles completing a three-game sweep in a 4-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. No one quite knew what to expect from Chris Tillman after he gave up four home runs in his last rehab start pitching for Triple-A Norfolk, but everyone invested in the Orioles would have gladly taken the five shutout innings he threw in his season debut.

2. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised given his history of first-inning struggles, but seven straight balls and two walks to open the game made you wonder if Tillman would make it out of the first. Despite quite a few deep counts, he walked only one more after those first two.

3. Tillman’s fastball velocity wasn’t his best, but he comfortably sat at 90 mph and went no lower than 88, which is good enough for him to succeed. He also threw good secondary pitches, inducing all eight of his swinging strikes with those over the course of his outing.

4. The results were good to see, but how Tillman feels Monday and Tuesday is more important than anything occurring in his first start. He and the training staff have put a great deal of work into strengthening his right shoulder, so you hope that pays off.

5. The Baltimore lineup didn’t square up many against White Sox lefty starter Jose Quintana, but it was important to get Tillman an early lead after he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first. An early 4-0 lead probably had Chicago thinking about getting out of town more than anything else.

6. Drawing the walk clearly isn’t a big part of the Orioles offense, but Adam Jones and Manny Machado came around to score after reaching on free passes in the first. You’d like to see a few more of those every now and then.

7. After homering off a right-hander the night before, Trey Mancini continues to make a strong bid to become an everyday player with a 3-for-4 performance that included a two-out RBI single in the first. His average now sits at .297 as he continues to maximize his chances.

8. Alec Asher was two outs away from the unorthodox three-inning-plus save before being lifted in favor of Brad Brach, but he did a superb job giving the bullpen a breather. His 2.55 ERA in 17 2/3 innings between starting and relief hasn’t gone unnoticed.

9. Francisco Pena said he’ll be OK for the start of the Washington series after his right thumb and much of his right arm cramped up in the eighth. If not, the Orioles will have an interesting decision on their hands with starting catcher Welington Castillo already on the disabled list.

10. The Orioles are 20-10 despite Tillman and Zach Britton missing significant time, Kevin Gausman struggling mightily, and Mark Trumbo slugging .314 with only two home runs so far. Just like Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette drew it up, right?

11. Jonathan Schoop missed his second straight game after being hit on the hand by a pitch in Friday’s win. The timing isn’t ideal with him swinging the bat so well and having reached base in 22 straight games, but Showalter hopes to have him back for the Nationals series.

12. Sunday marked the 2,000th game in the history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Needless to say, the last six seasons have been far more enjoyable than much of the park’s history. The Orioles are now 11-3 at home in 2017.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 4-2 win over White Sox

Posted on 06 May 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles beginning a five-game homestand with a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The news of Zach Britton again experiencing left forearm discomfort took the fun out of an improbable win in which the Orioles lost their starting pitcher in the first inning. As I noted after Thursday’s win in Boston, Britton’s sinker didn’t look right in two appearances since being activated.

2. Wade Miley was hit by two vicious liners in a three-pitch period to force him out of the game with two outs in the first. Fortunately, he suffered only a contusion on his left wrist and doesn’t expect to miss his next start, but I’ve never seen anything like that.

3. Gabriel Ynoa couldn’t have been much better in his Orioles debut, turning in six scoreless innings of relief to collect the win. With Miley’s exit occurring two nights after Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning at Boston, Ynoa’s 101 pitches were a godsend for a strained staff.

4. Ynoa really impressed with his slider as he used the breaking pitch to record 10 of his 13 swinging strikes. His numbers at Triple-A Norfolk were less than impressive in April, but he showed the kind of stuff Friday that makes him an interesting option moving forward.

5. Few had faith in Baltimore’s starting pitching depth entering the season, but it should be noted that Alec Asher, Jayson Aquino, and Tyler Wilson have all turned in quality starts in addition to Ynoa’s quasi-start on Friday. Those contributions have been huge with other starters ailing or struggling.

6. Chris Davis hit his first home run — and collected his first multi-hit game — since April 14 in a 3-for-3 night that also included a walk. The Orioles hope that’s the kind of game that gets the big first baseman going after an extended slump.

7. It’s a bit more understandable after we learned that Britton wasn’t available, but I’m still surprised that Buck Showalter allowed the newly-recalled Stefan Crichton to start the eighth inning with only a 2-0 lead. His leadoff walk issued to Melky Cabrera led to the first White Sox run.

8. Joey Rickard’s RBI double in the eighth proved to be the winning run after Brad Brach ran into some difficulty in the ninth inning. Those insurances runs become even more critical now with the incomparable Britton sidelined once again.

9. Seeing J.J. Hardy mishandle two potential double-play balls in the ninth was disconcerting as he continues to look shaky in the field. His defense needs to remain strong to help offset the decline in his bat over the last few years.

10. Old friend Miguel Gonzalez turned in the type of performance we frequently saw over his four seasons with Baltimore. His outings were rarely fancy and he struggled in the second half of 2015, but jettisoning him last spring was an obvious mistake.

11. Chris Tillman felt good after his workday on Friday and will make his 2017 debut for the Orioles on Sunday. Of course, the results in his four minor-league rehab starts and his underwhelming velocity have everyone holding their breath over whether he can at least be close to himself.

12. They’ve still managed to go 4-4 going back to last Friday, but this is easily one of the strangest weeks of Orioles baseball that I’ve ever witnessed. What else can happen at this point? Well, maybe we shouldn’t answer that.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay

Posted on 26 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles being shut out for the first time this season in a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Orioles lineup couldn’t even create opportunities with just two hits and three runners reaching scoring position — two in the second inning — over the course of a damp night. The Rays retired 18 of the final 19 Baltimore hitters.

2. Failing to score runs or collect hits is one thing, but the Orioles hit only four balls out of the infield in the entire game. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

3. You couldn’t have asked for much better from Wade Miley, who allowed two runs over seven innings to register his third straight quality start. He won’t sustain his 2.08 ERA, but Miley regaining the form of his early years in Arizona would go a long way in helping Baltimore contend.

4. For the second time in four starts, the walk was Miley’s Achilles heel as he walked six with both runs originating as free passes. For a pitcher with a career walk rate of 2.8 per nine innings, it’s strange to have outings of seven and six walks already this season.

5. After Ubaldo Jimenez gave the Orioles only 3 1/3 innings on Monday, Miley throwing 116 pitches over seven innings was a bulldog effort to spare the bullpen. He’s averaging 6.5 innings per start so far in 2017.

6. It doesn’t excuse the punchless bats, but Rays manager Kevin Cash scratching scheduled starter Erasmo Ramirez 20 minutes before first pitch because of “uncertain weather conditions” was unusual since there was very little rain until late in the game. I’m guessing that didn’t sit too well with the Orioles.

7. Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo are hovering at the Mendoza line, but the former can chalk up some of that to bad luck as he’s hit a number of balls hard with little to show for it. The same can’t be said for Trumbo, who hasn’t homered since Opening Day.

8. Chris Davis struck out looking for the 14th time this year, which is more than his 13 swinging strikeouts. With him going down looking a career-high 79 times last year, it’s becoming apparent that the first baseman needs to be more aggressive with two strikes.

9. Caleb Joseph had another opportunity to collect his first RBI since 2015 with runners on second and third and two outs in the second, but he struck out looking. He continues to do a good job defensively, but the RBI drought has to be torturing his mind at this point.

10. Darren O’Day turned in his fifth consecutive scoreless appearance and is really quelling the concerns stemming from his poor outings over the first week of the season.

11. The Rays turning Tuesday into a bullpen game worked beautifully, but seeing Cash change pitchers with two outs in the fourth and no serious scoring threat fetched more than a few eye rolls in the crowd and the press box on a less-than-ideal night at Camden Yards.

12. The next few days will be big for Zach Britton and Chris Tillman. Britton will complete a bullpen session on Wednesday and may have a rehab outing on Friday. Tillman is scheduled for a 75-pitch outing for Single-A Frederick on Thursday. If all goes well, both could return very soon.

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Tillman pitches 2 2/3 innings in first rehab start

Posted on 17 April 2017 by Luke Jones

Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took his biggest step yet in his return from a right shoulder injury on Monday night.

Making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A Bowie, the veteran allowed one run and two hits over 2 2/3 innings against Richmond. Tillman gave up a solo home run in the first inning, struck out three, and walked one in the process of throwing 42 pitches.

Multiple reports from Bowie indicated that Tillman threw his full assortment of pitches with his fastball sitting in the high 80s and topping out at around 90 or 91 miles per hour. That velocity is below his career average, but he told reporters that he felt good on the mound after initially having difficulty getting loose. Manager Buck Showalter indicated earlier this month that Tillman was still in the process of rebuilding strength in his shoulder, making the diminished velocity less surprising.

“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,’” Showalter said on April 8. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day.”

Should Tillman respond favorably to his first rehab start over the next day or two, he is expected to next pitch for Single-A Frederick. The Orioles hope that the 29-year-old will be ready to return to the major league rotation by early May if he does not suffer any setbacks.

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Orioles re-sign veteran outfielder Bourn to minor-league deal

Posted on 11 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles continued to add to their collection of veteran options in the minor leagues by re-signing outfielder Michael Bourn on Tuesday.

Just over two weeks after being granted his release, the 34-year-old has re-signed with Baltimore to another minor-league deal, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Bourn suffered a broken finger just days after signing with Baltimore in late February, but he is nearly recovered and is expected to report to extended spring training in Sarasota.

The surprising emergence of veteran Craig Gentry this spring lessened the immediate need for Bourn on the Baltimore bench, but his speed and defensive prowess were assets for the Orioles over the final month of the 2016 season. The lefty-swinging outfielder batted .283 with two home runs and a .793 on-base plus slugging percentage in 55 plate appearances with Baltimore last season while primarily serving as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner.

The current outfield mix at Triple-A Norfolk includes Chris Dickerson, Logan Schafer, Michael Choice, and Pedro Alvarez, who is adjusting to right field after previously playing both corner infield spots in his major league career. The Orioles are currently without fourth outfielder Joey Rickard, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained left middle finger.

With Rickard on the DL, Trey Mancini was starting in left field in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. It presented an interesting test for a rookie making only his second professional start in the outfield after previously serving as a first baseman in the minor leagues.

The Orioles also announced the re-signing of injured pitcher and outfielder Dariel Alvarez to a minor-league deal. Alvarez injured his right elbow in his conversion to the mound this spring and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.

In other injury-related news, manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Chris Tillman’s outing in Tuesday’s extended-spring game went well. The right-hander was expected to complete two innings or 30 pitches — whichever came first. Showalter said Tillman could potentially start for Double-A Bowie on Monday if his next workday goes well.

 

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Tillman continues rehab process in Sarasota

Posted on 08 April 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took the next step in the rehabilitation process for his right shoulder by throwing live batting practice in Sarasota on Saturday morning.

Monitored by pitching rehabilitation coordinator and former Orioles hurler Scott McGregor, the veteran right-hander threw 25 to 30 pitches and used all of his pitches in what amounted to a workday. McGregor told manager Buck Showalter that the session went well, but they will monitor how he feels on Sunday as they have the morning after every throwing sessions he’s completed this spring.

Tillman is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday when he goes two innings — or 30 pitches — in an extended spring game.

“He’s going to have to get built up,” Showalter said. “We had a [radar] gun and we filmed it today, but I’m not going to broadcast that. But he’s not where he’s going to be or needs to be, but that’s expected, especially at 10 o’clock in the morning with not a whole lot [going on]. You have to really push the intensity level.”

Showalter would like Tillman to rejoin the major league club after Tuesday’s outing to continue the rehab process, but a return to the Baltimore rotation is not expected until early May at best. The Orioles have mapped out a schedule for Tillman to pitch in minor-league home games with local affiliates, which would allow him to continue working out of the clubhouse at Camden Yards.

While reiterating that Tillman’s session went well on Saturday, Showalter went out of his way to be cautious in assessing his progress and the long-term outlook.

“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,'” Showalter said. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day. I’d really like to keep him in that environment down there [in Sarasota] as little as possible. I’m hoping after his two-inning stint that we can get him back in this environment.

“We’re really lucky to have Scott down there, a guy who’s had a lot of history with Chris and knows when it’s right and when it’s not. But he was positive in his report today.”

NOTES: Closer Zach Britton said his right ankle was fine after rolling it in the ninth inning of Friday’s win, but Showalter still wanted to see how he would respond to throwing on flat ground during batting practice. The lefty has pitched in each of Baltimore’s first three games. … Several candidates are still in play to pitch in Toronto next Saturday when the Orioles need a fifth starter for the first time. Showalter mentioned Jayson Aquino, Gabriel Ynoa, Mike Wright, and Alec Asher by name. … The Orioles have reaped the benefits of a five-man bench and eight-man bullpen over their first four games, but that will change Sunday when starting pitcher Wade Miley is activated from the disabled list to start in the series finale against the New York Yankees. … Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander (elbow) has been cleared to swing the bat, but he has not been cleared to throw and is not close to being ready to start a rehab assignment, according to Showalter. The Orioles would love to keep him in the organization, but they will be faced with a tough decision when he’s ready to be activated from the DL.

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2017 Orioles preview: Chris Tillman

Posted on 03 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day nearly upon us, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty
Brad Brach
J.J. Hardy
Ubaldo Jimenez
Mark Trumbo
Wade Miley
Welington Castillo
Zach Britton
Chris Davis
Dylan Bundy
Hyun Soo Kim
Joey Rickard
Vidal Nuno
Trey Mancini
Oliver Drake
Craig Gentry

SP Chris Tillman

Opening Day age: 28

Contract status: Under club control through the 2017 season

2016 stats: 16-6, 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 19 HR, 172 innings

Why to be impressed: The veteran made at least 30 starts for the fourth straight season and registered his highest strikeout rate since the 2013 season. Using his slider more than twice as much as he ever had in any previous season, Tillman registered the highest swinging-strike percentage of his career and was on his way to producing arguably his best season before going to the disabled list in August.

Why to be concerned: The shoulder issue that cost him the better part of a month late in 2016 resurfaced in the offseason, prompting him to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and a cortisone shot last month. His velocity was down over his final two starts of last year, another sign making you wonder whether the cortisone shot will allow Tillman to perform at a high level for long upon returning.

2017 outlook: Manager Buck Showalter said Tillman’s bullpen session on Saturday was “real encouraging” and has indicated that he could be back as soon as early next month if all goes well. Given the long-term nature of his shoulder problem, however, the right-hander being able to make even 20 starts at a solid level would have to be viewed as a win for the Orioles in his contract year.

2017 not-so-scientific projections: 9-7, 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 16 HR, 116 innings

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Gausman officially named 2017 Opening Day starter

Posted on 27 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Weeks of assuming have finally turned official as the Orioles announced Monday that Kevin Gausman will start on Opening Day.

The right-hander will be making the first season-opening start of his career as veteran Chris Tillman will begin the year on the disabled list, snapping his stretch of three straight Opening Day starts. Gausman will take the ball against Toronto while Dylan Bundy will start the second game of the season, according to manager Buck Showalter.

The Blue Jays will send right-hander Marco Estrada to the hill for next Monday’s opener.

Gausman blossomed into a top-half-of-the-rotation starter in 2016 with a 3.61 ERA in 30 starts covering 179 2/3 innings. His 9-12 record was a direct result of poor run support, but he looked the part of an ace over the final two months of the season by pitching to a 2.83 ERA over his final 12 starts spanning 76 1/3 innings. The breakthrough was no more evident than at Fenway Park on Sept. 14 when he pitched eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Boston and on the final day of the regular season when he pitched 7 1/3 strong innings at Yankee Stadium to help the Orioles clinch the second wild card.

It remains to be seen whom Showalter will tab as his fifth starter to begin the season as the Orioles won’t need one until April 15. Gabriel Ynoa and Jayson Aquino have emerged as intriguing candidates after strong Grapefruit League outings over the weekend.

Tillman is not expected to return in the first month of the season as he just began throwing again on Sunday after receiving a cortisone injection in his right shoulder.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts as spring training winds down

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in the midst of their final two weeks in Sarasota, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ken Rosenthal fairly laid out positives and concerns related to Brady Anderson’s organizational role, but the big question is the future. With Dan Duquette’s contract expiring after 2018, is Anderson viewed as his successor and, if so, is he adequately preparing for that while still wearing so many other hats?

2. Anderson’s criticism of the handling of Jake Arrieta coincides with Baseball Prospectus’ latest look at the Orioles’ track record with pitching prospects. More scrutiny for both their talent evaluation and development remains in order from top to bottom despite the club’s success over the last five years.

3. Count me as a new World Baseball Classic fan. It’s refreshing seeing outward emotion without it leading to World War III. Cultivating more of this mindset in the majors would better grow the sport than obsessing over shaving 10 minutes from the time of game. Joy isn’t a four-letter word.

4. With baseball being a regional sport in terms of fan interest and player popularity, it’s been fun seeing Adam Jones shine in the WBC spotlight. In the process of pointing out what he isn’t, too many overlook just how important he’s been to the Orioles’ turnaround. He deserves this.

5. As the club counts down to Chris Tillman attempting a long-toss session this Sunday, you have to wonder what’s next if he again experiences shoulder discomfort after a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and a cortisone shot earlier this month. Plenty of folks have to be holding their breath.

6. You shouldn’t read too much into any spring numbers, but Trey Mancini is doing everything he can to make the club. In addition to posting a .926 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Grapefruit League, he is also learning the outfield. Finding a role for him is the obvious problem.

7. There’s much debate about whether Hyun Soo Kim is capable of hitting left-handed pitching, but he entered Wednesday just 2-for-5 with two strikeouts against southpaws in the Grapefruit League. It’d be tough to argue that Buck Showalter is committed to finding out if Kim can be an everyday player.

8. After Francisco Pena and Audry Perez were sent to minor-league camp on Tuesday, Chance Sisco remained as the only non-roster catcher in major league spring training. The 22-year-old isn’t making the club, but the Orioles wanting to take a longer look at him is a good sign.

9. Robert Andino will always be remembered for the final game of the 2011 season, but he’s appeared in only 13 major league games since 2013 and is just 4-for-39 with 11 strikeouts this spring. You have to wonder if the 32-year-old will be given a place in Baltimore’s minor-league system.

10. Perhaps Seth Smith doesn’t need a slew of at-bats to get ready for Opening Day, but he hasn’t played in two weeks because of a slow-healing hamstring injury. That’s an unsettling development for a 34-year-old right fielder who will likely be playing in cool conditions in April.

11. Despite his early success at the plate since re-signing, Pedro Alvarez going to the minors to learn the outfield should remain the plan. The corner outfield defense clearly hasn’t been prioritized recently, but run prevention needs to matter — at least somewhat — with a pitch-to-contact rotation.

12. After enduring headaches with fringe roster players being out of options in recent seasons, the Orioles’ only decision in that department is reliever Oliver Drake. The 30-year-old has had some limited major league success over the last two seasons, but he isn’t helping his cause with a 10.61 spring ERA.

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Tillman receiving cortisone injection for ailing shoulder

Posted on 15 March 2017 by Luke Jones

After weighing the options with the Orioles medical staff, starting pitcher Chris Tillman will receive a cortisone injection for the right shoulder that’s given him problems since last August.

The right-hander was shut down last weekend because of lingering shoulder discomfort that scrapped what was supposed to be a pivotal bullpen session. Already ruled out for the start of the 2017 regular season after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder in December, Tillman had hoped to be ready to join the major league rotation by April 15 when the Orioles need a fifth starter for the first time.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism to reporters in Florida on Wednesday that the shot could allow Tillman to resume throwing in the near future, which would mean he wouldn’t have to start from the beginning of his throwing progression. However, this is the second cortisone injection Tillman has received since August, leading one to wonder how serious the issue might be with his right shoulder. Showalter told reporters earlier this week that surgery is not an option now.

Placed on the disabled list with the shoulder problem last August, Tillman missed the better part of a month before returning to make five starts at the end of the 2016 season. He then began experiencing discomfort when he began his throwing program in December, leading to him receiving a PRP injection. Set to become a free agent next winter, the 28-year-old has made at least 30 starts in each of the last four seasons, but that streak is in clear jeopardy unless he responds very favorably to the cortisone.

Kevin Gausman is expected to be the Opening Day starter as Tillman’s streak of three straight will be snapped. It remains to be seen who might step into the No. 5 starter role with Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Jayson Aquino, and Chris Lee being the internal candidates to slot behind Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wade Miley in the Baltimore rotation.

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