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Saturday’s Bird Droppings: Where Chris Tillman wants to pitch again

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Elsewhere in Birdland: Holt discusses his new role, Adley will be under pressure and Hardy was great.

Cleveland Indians v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

The argument could be made that Chris Tillman was the Orioles best pitcher of the 2010’s. The righty came to the organization as part of the Adam Jones/Erik Bedard swap in 2008. He made it to the bigs in 2009 and started putting up solid numbers.

Tillman’s best stretch came from 2013 to 2014, two seasons in which he threw over 400 total innings and posted ERA’s below 3.75 in each to go along with his lone all-star selection.

But he faded fast, throwing just 93 innings in 2017 while sporting a 7.84 ERA. And then he got worse in 2018. In just seven games that season Tillman allowed 31 runs in 26.2 innings, walking 17, striking out 13 and allowing six home runs.

Tillman was released by the Orioles in July 2018. He signed on with the Rangers in August 2018 on a minor league deal, but would pitch in just four games for their Triple-A affiliate before being released by them in the following off-season.

The now-31-year-old sat out all of 2019 and underwent shoulder surgery on his labrum. And the word is that he is ready to give pitching another chance.

Tillman’s major issue during his decline was a serious regression in his fastball velocity. The guy was once able to sit in the mid-90’s during a start, but was struggling to even touch 90 mph in 2018. Perhaps surgery and a positive rehab program have improved that area of his game.

As a player who is several years removed from positive major league performances, Tillman is unlikely to get anything more than a minor league offer. But even still, that could be a win-win. Tillman is back in the pros and some club has a relatively young hurler on a cheap contract with some upside.

Tillman could be a fit for the Orioles, who would do well to pad their upper minors with arms. But this is not the same organization that Tillman left last year. He may prefer to start fresh elsewhere. Whatever the case, hopefully he makes a successful comeback somewhere so that his career doesn't end on such a sour note.

Links

Chris Tillman Recovering From Shoulder Surgery, Planning Spring Showcase - MLB Trade Rumors
Oh yeah! That is the good stuff!

Holt on his new responsibilities as director of pitching - School of Roch
The Orioles minor league pitchers sure seemed to take a massive leap forward in 2019, and Chris Holt had a lot to do with it. It sounds like he will have more input on how things are done at the major league level in 2020. Of course, that won’t mean much if the team doesn’t have sufficient talent witch which Holt can tinker.

For this player, expectations will be high in 2020 - Steve Melewski
It’s Adley Rutschman. That is the “player” referenced here. And it’s a fair point. There is a lot of pressure on a number one overall pick being touted as the best catching prospect since future Hall of Famer Buster Posey.

J.J. Hardy Was One Of The Best This Past Decade - Birds Watcher
The way J.J. Hardy played baseball was not especially smooth. Every move he made looked like he was in pain. He was one of the slowest people on the bases. And yet, he was one of the better shortstops of his era. Hardy won’t get to Cooperstown, but he is a lock to enter the Orioles Hall of Fame at some point, sideburns and all.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Bill Hall, an Orioles utility player for seven games in 2012, is 40. Longtime reliever B.J. Ryan, who spent seven solid seasons in Baltimore between 1999 and 2005, turns 44. Former infielder and current Nationals broadcaster Ray Knight, an Oriole for one season in 1987, is 67 years old. And finally it is the birthday of the late Aurelio Rodriguez (b. 1947, d. 2000), a third baseman that played 45 games for the World Series winning ‘83 O’s.

2005 - The Orioles agree to a two-year contract with outfielder Jeromy Burnitz. Of course, he would never end up signing that contract, instead agreeing to another deal with the Pittsburgh pirates later in the off-season.