08 April 2011

Is Chris Tillman Injured or just a Taun Taun?

I want to be completely and utterly clear here.  On this occasion, I have absolutely no inside information and am basing this solely off of Pitch f/x.

This Spring Training there were murmurs from opposing scouts that Chris Tillman had turned into a junk pitcher.  He was no longer using his fastball as much and was using it as a show me pitch.  Instead, he had increased his use of his secondary pitches.  I had thought he was doing this just to get more feel on them and get ready for the season.  Last night, it did not look so good.

Count: 63
Swing and Miss: 2
Velocity: 87.3 +/- 1.1 mph (89.5 mph max)
Horizontal Run: -1.8 +/- 1.7 inches
Vertical Drop: 11.0 +/- 1.8 inches

In comparison, this is what he did on July 10, 2010:

Count: 69
Swing and Miss: 2
Velocity: 91.4 +/- 1.2 mph (93.5 mph max)
Horizontal Run: -3.4 +/- 1.6 inches
Vertical Drop: 10.2 +/- 2.1 inches

Whenever I see a difference of 3 mph or more, it concerns me.  That loss of velocity is a major hindrance.  Comparing the two starts, Tillman was not missing bats with his fastball, but that loss of speed can give a batter more time to square up and make more solid contact.  Compounding that with Tillman getting less movement on his fastball and it becomes more of a concern.

Another important aspect of pitching is to have a nice delta between your fastball and change up.  The wider the margin while keeping the same arm action will affect the batter's ability to time.  Last July the difference between the fastball and change up was 9.5 mph while last night it was 6.8 mph.  The movement also looks a bit flatter.  Last year it had more horizontal runs and more sink.  The curve balls look different too, but both could be useful.  Last year, the pitch was harder and had more drop.  This year, it is about 3 mph slower with more horizontal movement and slightly less drop.

It may have just been a bad night.

How did it compare to last Saturday?
He was humming along at 89.4 with a max of 93.5 mph.  His curve balls was about the same speed, but had almost twice as much movement.  The delta on his fastball to change up was 11 mph.  So . . . this was not the same pitcher.  Tillman, as mentioned earlier, had diminished velocity during the Spring.  His game last Saturday would count as that.  However, last night was worse as his max speed was 4 mph less.  Hopefully, it is just him not being able to adapt to the cold.


bhbf08 said...

I wonder if he is slowing it down because he was trying to over-power hitters or just overthrowing in general. By slowing it down a tick he has better control? Well, let's hope so!

Jon Shepherd said...

That is possible and that is what he says in interviews. I'm not sure he has better control though.