Thursday, October 22, 2020

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2017 Orioles preview: Chris Tillman

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

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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