With Opening Day just over a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.
SP Chris Tillman
Contract status: Under club control through the 2017 season
2015 stats: 11-11, 4.99 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6.2 K/IP, 3.3 BB/IP, 20 HR, 173 innings
Why to be impressed: There weren’t many positives to take away from Tillman’s worst season since 2011 when he was still trying to establish himself as a major league pitcher, but his ERA against every club except Toronto was a respectable 3.84 in 147 2/3 innings. The right-hander also allowed just eight home runs in 93 2/3 innings at Camden Yards, no easy accomplishment despite his overall struggles.
Why to be concerned: Tillman’s strikeout rate declined for a second consecutive season while he issued more walks and hits per inning pitched. It’s easy to say the 2015 Opening Day starter pitched pretty well against everyone but the Blue Jays, but that powerful lineup will once again be an obstacle in the AL East and you can only do so much to have Tillman avoid the matchup.
2016 outlook: A career 4.50 fielding independent pitching mark and opponents’ career .279 batting average on balls in play suggest that Tillman had good fortune from 2012-2014, but I won’t dismiss a three-year sample and say the 2015 version is who he really is. With the support of strong defense and better command, Tillman should more closely resemble the successful starter we saw in previous years.
2016 not-so-scientific projections: 13-10, 3.88 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.5 K/IP, 3.0 BB/IP, 23 HR, 193 innings