Tag Archive | "Chris Tillman"

If the season ended today, how much better off would the Orioles be for the future?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

If the season ended today, how much better off would the Orioles be for the future?

Posted on 22 July 2012 by Luke Jones

With Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Indians, the Orioles ended the weekend tied for the American League wild-card lead on the heels of a five-game winning streak in Minnesota and Cleveland.

As I’ve written many times over the last few months, the 2012 season has been a fun and romantic ride for Orioles fans stricken with suffering through listless summers toward losing season after losing season. The late-inning comebacks and unlikely heroes have left nearly everyone scratching their heads in disbelief as the numbers suggest they shouldn’t be nearly as prosperous as they’ve been.

Left for dead less than a week ago after falling to only two games above .500 for the first time since April, the resilient Orioles suddenly have a pulse again with an impressive turn through the current starting rotation that started with Tommy Hunter on Wednesday and ended Sunday with Zach Britton, who tossed six shutout innings to earn his first victory of the season.

The winning streak will inevitably turn up the volume on trade deadline discussion and the Orioles’ wild-card chances, but a much louder question has sounded in my head over the last month as we’ve watched the offense struggle and Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Hunter be demoted to Triple-A Norfolk.

If the season were to end today, how much better off would the Orioles be for the future than they were at the start of the 2012 campaign?

My answer — at least entering the final week of July — sounds like the ultimate wet blanket, especially when you remember where the Orioles currently sit in the standings after 95 games.

But truthfully, I’m not sure the club is markedly improved in terms of being able to compete long-term.

Yes, we can discuss the potential psychological breakthrough of ending a spell of 14 straight losing seasons and the effect it might have on potential free agents viewing Baltimore as a more viable destination, but that only matters if majority owner Peter Angelos and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette make the financial commitment to capitalize in the offseason.

The bullpen has been outstanding with Jim Johnson leading the way to eliminate any doubts that may have lingered last offseason about his ability to close out victories. However, the collective performance of a bullpen from season to season is as dependable as the stock market, meaning the likelihood of getting the same outstanding performances from each Orioles reliever next year and beyond is highly unlikely.

Offensively speaking, center fielder Adam Jones is enjoying a career year and received a six-year contract to keep him in Baltimore, but his production since early June has leveled off, suggesting 2012 is a year of steady improvement for the 26-year-old rather than a quantum leap to MVP candidacy on an annual basis. Catcher Matt Wieters is having another good season in becoming one of the best catchers in baseball, but his offense hasn’t taken a step forward from his first All-Star campaign a year ago. Of course, that’s not a knock on either player as they’re the Orioles’ two most dependable run producers, but we already knew that entering the season.

Aside from the surprisingly versatile Chris Davis looking like a solid — but unspectacular — everyday player, some combination of injury, ineffectiveness, and poor defense has hamstrung every other regular in the Baltimore lineup. The club needs to address multiple positions in the offseason, with the corner infield positions, second base, and left field all included.

And that brings us to the starting pitching, the area in which the Orioles have been most disappointing beyond the surprising performances of newcomer Jason Hammel and Taiwanese rookie Wei-Yin Chen. The regression of Matusz and Arrieta has been discouraging at best and devastating at worst when considering the high expectations for each pitcher.

As encouraging as this last turn through the rotation as been, I’m not ready to sign off on Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, or Britton as mainstays of the rotation a month from now let alone a year from now.

Continue >>>

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , ,

Pitcher Steve Johnson optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after MLB debut

Posted on 15 July 2012 by WNST Staff

The Orioles announced after today’s game that they have optioned RHP STEVE JOHNSON to Triple-A Norfolk.

Johnson made his major league debut in this afternoon’s game against Detroit, allowing one earned run on a solo home run, walking two and striking out two. He is 3-6 with a 3.11 ERA (66.2IP, 23ER) in 15 games (10 starts) for the Tides. He was acquired by the Orioles with INF JOSH BELL on July 30, 2009 in exchange for LHP GEORGE SHERRILL.

Steve, and his father, Dave, who pitched for the Orioles from 1989-91, became the sixth father-son duo to play for the Orioles, joining Bob and Terry Kennedy, Don and Damon Buford, John O’Donoghue Sr. and John O’Donoghue Jr., Dave and Derrick May, and Tim Raines Sr. and Tim Raines Jr.

Though the Orioles didn’t announce a corresponding roster move following the game, pitcher Chris Tillman will be recalled to make Monday’s start against the Minnesota Twins.

Comments (0)

Hammel leaning toward knee surgery to have loose cartilage removed

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hammel leaning toward knee surgery to have loose cartilage removed

Posted on 14 July 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After undergoing an MRI that revealed the loose cartilage in his right knee has moved to a more uncomfortable place, Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel appears to be leaning toward having surgery.

No decision will be made until Sunday, but all signs point to the 29-year-old being placed on the 15-day disabled list. Hammel could elect to rest the knee in hopes that the loose cartilage will move away from the joint, which is causing him more pain than where the cartilage rested before. The MRI did not reveal any new structural damage from what he’s already been dealing with throughout the season.

“At this point, it’s kind of like a thing where you’re done dealing with it,” Hammel said. “I don’t know yet.”

Manager Buck Showalter estimated a surgical procedure would leave Hammel with a projected return in early September. His loss will further decimate a starting rotation that’s seen three of its Opening Day members sent to Triple-A Norfolk in the last two weeks.

Hammel said the knee had felt much better in recent weeks, especially after coming back from the All-Star break for a team workout on Thursday. However, he felt the cartilage move delivering a 1-2 pitch to Brennan Boesch in the top of the fourth inning of Friday night’s loss.

“It’s got to be soon because I don’t want to miss too much time,” Hammel said. “It’s a pretty simple procedure to go in there — it’d just be a regular scope. I could let it rest and I’d miss a little bit of time that way, but I think it’d be better to kind of just get it taken care of.”

With Hammel likely going to the disabled list on Sunday, the Orioles could elect to call up another bullpen arm after the entire bullpen sans Luis Ayala — who pitched 1 1/3 innings on Friday — worked in the 13-inning win over the Tigers on Saturday night.

The right-hander has been the club’s best starter in his first season in Baltimore, going 8-6 with a 3.54 earned run average in 18 starts. Hammel was one of five finalists for the American League’s “Final Vote” spot for the 2012 All-Star Game.

The latest development with Hammel will force the Orioles to continue making roster moves as Chris Tillman is scheduled to be recalled to pitch in Minnesota on Monday. The club will also need starting pitchers for Tuesday and Wednesday, with Zach Britton and Brian Matuz the likely candidates for those assignments.

“We’re going to have to make room for Tillman on Monday,” Showalter said. “The options are dwindling because [Jason] Berken pitched for [Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday].”

Reliever Steve Johnson is on the 40-man roster and hasn’t pitched since July 8, making him a strong candidate to be recalled temporarily to take Hammel’s spot on Sunday and give the Orioles an extra arm in the bullpen.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Jason Hammel about his right knee injury right here.

Comments (0)

Chris Tillman Flirts with a One-Hit Shutout but Settles for a Win

Tags: ,

Chris Tillman Flirts with a One-Hit Shutout but Settles for a Win

Posted on 04 July 2012 by hopebirchfield

On this Independence Day, Orioles fans can be grateful for freedom and the fact that the Orioles are again showing signs of life. In a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners, the Orioles bats seem to be coming alive in the final stretch before the All-Star Break as the Orioles scored four runs on seven hits. As it turned out though, it would not take four runs to secure a win. In fact, through much of the game, it looked as though the Orioles could have taken the win with just one run.

A lot of Orioles fans were concerned when it was announced Chris Tillman was the starting pitcher against the Mariners. Fans remembered his lackluster performances in previous seasons and begrudgingly dismissed the “Orioles prospect” that wasn’t. Out of the gate strong, Tillman flirted with the no-hitter going into the 4th when Michael Saunders hit a clean single to put the first hit for the Mariners on the board. Not letting the pressure of a base runner get to him (as it has in years passed), Tillman went scoreless going into the bottom of the 9th. Showalter, clearing showing confidence in the new and improved Chris Tillman, allowed him the chance at the complete game shutout. With no outs, Andino bobbled the ball out of his glove and allowed Saunders to reach first on an error. As if a beast was awoken, the Mariners tried to muster some momentum as Jaso launched a ball to the gap in right-center. Tillman went 8 1/3 innings giving up 2 hits on 2 runs (both unearned) while fanning seven. While the shutout was spoiled with Jim Johnson giving up 2 runs in his relief performance, Tillman pitched an impressive first game back to secure a W.

Are we sure this wasn’t a cyborg version of Tillman?

No, his mechanics and his pitching have simply evolved. When he first made his debut in 2009, Tillman was a raw, young pitcher. His rapid advancement through the farm development system did not allow Tillman the opportunity to perfect his game. When he threw the first inning today, Twitter was buzzing with people re-jumping on the #TeamTillman bandwagon. Anyone who had witnessed Tillman pitch in the past immediately noticed something different. Having good command of the ball throughout the game, Tillman was clocking anywhere from 94-97 mph fastballs even in the late innings. His curveball has also evolved into a dangerous pitch with his off-speed pitches clocking a good 20 mph under his fastball. For the most part, it seemed as though people were catching Tillman Mania again. Sure, there were some that showed concern due to the Mariners weak lineup but I interject this, “They seemed to be judging Jason Hammel quite well and he’s an All-Star nominated pitcher.” It seems quite simple – If Tillman pitches like he did today, a lot of lineups would have trouble hitting his stuff. Like a man on a mission, Chris Tillman knows that he may be on borrowed time and he is trying his best to prove that he is part of the future of the club.

What have we learned from all of this in developing young pitchers?

Tillman is one of the primary reasons why Dylan Bundy is being moved cautiously through the farm system. In something I have dubbed the “Tillman Theory,” it states “If you send a kid to pitch, you’ll get a kid pitching.” Essentially, the evolution from a high school arm to a college arm to a professional ballplayer arm is a process that cannot be rushed. Hopefully, fans can take Tillman as a lesson (as long as he performs and excels as he did today) and stop pressuring Bundy to be rapidly promoted. We all know he’s going to be good but you can’t rush perfection.

Comments (3)

matusz

Tags: , , , ,

Matusz falters, Johnson recalled – Who do the Orioles call up next?

Posted on 02 July 2012 by hopebirchfield

After the abysmal performance of starter Brian Matusz in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Indians, he was optioned to Norfolk immediately following the game. In only four innings, Matusz gave up 7 hits on 5 runs (4 earned) and walked four. With the loss, Brian Matusz was awarded his tenth loss of season and fifth loss in a row. It was announced that Steve Johnson would be recalled from Norfolk to join the Orioles bullpen on the road in Seattle. In his last four outings cumulatively totaling 12.1 innings, Johnson has given up only five hits on no runs and has fanned 20. The Orioles are obviously looking to add a long-lasting reliever with the hesitant performances of the starting rotation as of late. Within the next week however, the Orioles will likely need to recall a starting pitcher. Who are the best two options to call up from the Norfolk Tides? Zach Britton and Chris Tillman (Read on before you send hate mail).

Zach “Sinker” Britton

Zach was the starting pitcher on Sunday evening as the Tides looked to best the Syracuse Chiefs. Watching him come out of the gate strong retiring the side in the first (including striking out two), you can not help but wonder whether Britton had heard of the upcoming rotation spot. In five innings, Britton yielded one earned run and struck out seven. There were times when his control and command were not at its best and times when he visibly struggled. All in all, it was not his best performance but it certainly was not his worst performance either. He exited the game losing so even though the Tides won, he did not register a decision.

In the last four games, Britton’s ERA is 4.80 and he has struck out 13 in 21 innings of work. Britton primarily relies on his sinker with velocities in the low to mid 90s, much to the chagrin of the opposing offense. His arsenal also includes an above-average slider and a below-average (but improved) changeup. Typically, Britton throws his sinker as he often has trouble commanding his changeup. With a sinker with such high velocity, when Britton is on his game, he is almost un-hittable. While pitching with the Baltimore Orioles last year; he split the season with eleven wins and eleven losses. His final ERA was 4.61 on the year and he recorded 97 strikeouts. Due to an impingement of his left shoulder, Britton was added to the disabled list in March and has been rehabbing with the Norfolk Tides since June 6th.

It is obvious that eventually Zach Britton will go back to the Baltimore Orioles but when is the more pertinent question. While he still is throwing well, his ERA is similar to the one that yielded a split 11-11 decision with the Orioles. In the most recent game against the Chiefs, Britton commanded the ball extremely well but he is still finding his rhythm. A few more starts at the Norfolk Tides could make him an even better addition for when down the stretch.

Why not Chris Tillman?

Before the collective sighs from Orioles fans who remember his 5.60 ERA, 7-15 record in the 2009 through 2011 season, let me just say that in his last four outings (21-plus innings), he recorded 27 strikeouts. No, that’s not a typo – He has fanned 27 people in 21 innings. Chris Tillman is a different player this year. Farm teams were created to develop player mechanics and before you discount him just because he’s Chris Tillman, his mechanics have greatly improved and made him an elite competitor.

In his recent performances, Tillman has won his last four decisions with a 2.57 ERA, including one shutout performance in Toledo. His fastball has picked up some stream and reaches 94-95 mph pretty consistently. He also has an above-average curveball and an average cutter. In the past, Orioles fans have seen Tillman struggle with commanding the ball, often flustered with runners on base and seeming to quickly unravel with base runners. This year, however, the Chris Tillman that takes the mound is more disciplined with better control. Often Tillman is overlooked because of his performances at the big club but he clearly lives by the mantra – “Practice makes perfect.” Surely his command and control have improved, as can be seen with his ERA dropping and shutout appearances. Like most pitchers, there are times when he still struggles, but unfortunately that can be said about the majority of pitchers currently on the Orioles. There is a reason why farm teams exist and Tillman may be the poster child for their success in developing mechanics of young players. At 24, Tillman may be one of the future pitchers in this organization if he continues to pitch as he has been in his recent outings. If the Orioles actually take the proverbial leap of faith and recall him, Tillman may surprise a lot of people. The numbers in his recent three seasons with the Orioles are not a good indication of his skill level or his recent development. Perhaps this is the case when it’s the 4th time that is a charm.

Final Thoughts

Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen cannot be the only reliable pitchers in the starting rotation. With the recent departure of Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz, Showalter has made it clear that sub par performances will only be tolerated for so long. Personally, I would like to see both Britton and Tillman at the big league level later this season. They both are dominating pitchers who can throw the ball well with good movement. Who knows? With Tillman being a righty and Britton being a lefty, perhaps they can create a duo that we can deem “Hammel and Chen, Version 2.0.”

Comments (3)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles shut down Japanese pitcher Wada

Posted on 21 April 2012 by Luke Jones

With starting pitcher Brian Matusz struggling in his first three starts of 2012, it looked like the Orioles might eventually turn to Japanese newcomer Tsuyoshi Wada in the near future, but that will no longer be the case.

The club announced Saturday it has shut down Wada’s rehab assignment, and the left-handed pitcher will return to Baltimore to see team doctors. Wada has been on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury and reportedly was dealing with neck spasms during a disastrous rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday. Wada gave up six earned runs and walked four in just 2 2/3 innings in his only start for the Tides.

Wada was considered the primary option to potentially replace Matusz at the major league level, but there is no timetable for the injured pitcher to resume throwing. Starters Brad Bergesen (8.49 earned run average in 11 2/3 innings) and Chris Tillman (4.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings) haven’t exactly excelled in their first three starts in the starting rotation for the Tides, meaning manager Buck Showalter might be more inclined to turn to journeyman Dana Eveland (2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings) or Jason Berken (0.60 ERA in three starts covering 15 innings) if the Orioles decide to demote Matusz in the near future.

Even if the Orioles weren’t planning to replace Matusz with Wada in the starting rotation, the 31-year-old rookie was considered the most logical choice for a long-relief role in the bullpen, which currently lacks a pitcher who can throw multiple innings at a time.

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Orioles option RHP Tillman to Triple-A Norfolk, place Simon on waivers

Posted on 31 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With the start of the season less than a week away, the Orioles moved closer to shaping their pitching staff with a pair of moves over the last 24 hours.

Right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where he will presumably be a member of the Tides’ starting rotation. Showing improved velocity, the 23-year-old Tillman posted a 2.92 earned run average in 12 1/3 innings over five outings this spring.

The Orioles likely view Triple A as a better fit for Tillman as he tries to build on a successful spring and extends himself as a starter. Though he was still a dark-horse candidate for the fifth starter job, Tillman likely would have found himself as a long reliever only pitching a few innings a week.

The club also reportedly placed right-handed pitcher Alfredo Simon on outright waivers despite his ability to pitch as either a starter or a reliever. Battling a groin injury during sprain training, Simon was lit up for six runs in two innings of relief work on Wednesday.

Simon’s impending removal from the 40-man roster will clear a spot for one of two non-roster invitees likely to make the 25-man roster heading north. First baseman Nick Johnson is expected to be part of the Orioles’ bench while catcher Ronny Paulino will be Matt Wieters’ backup with Taylor Teagarden heading to the 15-day disabled list.

 

Comments (0)

Here’s How I’d Put Together Orioles Roster At This Point

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s How I’d Put Together Orioles Roster At This Point

Posted on 27 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

They’re not going to be good, but they’re going to play games anyway. Tuesday on “The Reality Check”, I offered my best educated guess on how to put together the Baltimore Orioles’ 25 man Opening Day roster.

A lot of this appears to be set in stone already. As a reminder, I’m not in Sarasota covering Spring Training. I’m in Towson looking out the window at the deer here at 1550 Hart Rd.

I’m not complaining by the way.

OUTFIELDERS (4):

Nolan Reimold
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
Endy Chavez

INFIELDERS/DESIGNATED HITTER (7):
Mark Reynolds
JJ Hardy
Robert Andino
Ryan Flaherty
Chris Davis
Wilson Betemit
Nick Johnson

CATCHERS (2):
Matt Wieters

Ronny Paulino

STARTING ROTATION-IN ORDER (5):
Jake Arrieta
Jason Hammel
Wei-Yin Chen

Tommy Hunter
Dana Eveland

BULLPEN (7):
Kevin Gregg
Matt Lindstrom

Luis Ayala
Tsuyoshi Wada
Jim Johnson
Pedro Strop
Troy Patton

(DISABLED LIST: P Zach Britton, 2B Brian Roberts, P Darren O’Day & P Alfredo Simon)

ROSTER NOTES: The O’s will be able to add Johnson and Paulino to the roster by sampling moving OF Jai Miller and C Taylor Teagarden off the roster. I’m guessing the team will now choose to leave Brian Matusz in Norfolk to protect a rotation spot for Britton when he’s healthy. There are other roster options (including leaving Wada on the DL) that could open up a spot for a Chris Tillman, O’Day or Simon.

-G

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Roberts, Britton to begin year on 15-day DL; Orioles make more spring cuts

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles continue to sort out which 25 players they’ll be taking north to open the season against the Minnesota Twins on April 6.

Second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion symptoms) and left-handed pitcher Zach Britton (left shoulder impingement) will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. The veteran infielder continues to progress from the concussion symptoms he’s dealt with for the better part of 18 months but is not ready to resume his role as the Baltimore second baseman. Britton is currently receiving platelet rich plasma therapy in hopes of rebuilding strength in his pitching shoulder and will likely be out until at least May.

The decision to place Roberts on the 15-day disabled list means he will remain on the 40-man roster. Some speculated Roberts would be placed on the 60-day list, but it appears he will travel with the club to Baltimore to get re-acclimated to a major league environment before potentially going on a minor league rehab assignment.

The Orioles trimmed their spring roster to 35 on Monday by optioning infielder Matt Antonelli and pitchers Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken to Triple-A Norfolk. They also reassigned pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Armando Gallaraga, catcher John Hester, infielder Steve Tolleson, and outfielder Scott Beerer to minor league camp.

The demotions of Antonelli and Tolleson make it apparent that Showalter will keep Rule 5 selection Ryan Flaherty as his utility infielder since Robert Andino will be the starting second baseman. The 25-year-old Flaherty is hitting .279 in 43 spring at-bats with one home run and eight runs batted in.

As for the starting rotation, it appears Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, and Tommy Hunter have locked up four of the five spots. Lefty Brian Matusz looks to be the favorite for the fifth spot, but Tsuyoshi Wada, Dana Eveland, and Chris Tillman remain in the mix over the final week and a half of spring training.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tillman Shaky But Orioles Top Twins

Posted on 16 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Comments (0)