27 March 2018

How Long Will Chris Tillman's Leash Be?

After a disastrous 2017 season, Chris Tillman is back in the fold as one of the Orioles' five starting pitchers. He'll start the year in the rotation, and he'll be given a chance to show that last year was a blip on the radar.

Every O's fan hopes Tillman improves in 2018. It would be hard for him to pitch much worse, but that's not a reason that he'll necessarily pitch better. So... what if he doesn't? That was a question posed on Twitter last week by Andrew Keatts:
Regardless of how successful the team's offseason was, the Orioles are built to win now. Of all five starters -- Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, and Tillman -- Tillman appears to be the worst of the bunch. That's not to say the others won't struggle or that Tillman can't succeed, but he'd likely be the first choice if someone had to pick who'd pitch the worst in 2018. That's how bad Tillman was last year.

Tillman will make at least $3 million in 2018, hardly enough for the O's to keep running him out there over and over again if he has a few terrible outings to begin the year. Other current options, such as Mike Wright, Nestor Cortes, Miguel Castro, Gabriel Ynoa, etc., are far from significant upgrades on paper, but they do present the chance for some hope. The Orioles also appear to realize the need for more rotation depth, as Scott Feldman and even R.A. Dickey, among others, are pitchers they're checking in on. Surely, those rumors have something to do with Tillman's struggles in spring training and a fastball that has not often surpassed 90 mph.

The Orioles could desperately use the 2012-2016 version of Tillman. Even the 2015 version, when he posted a 4.99 ERA in 173 innings, would suffice. What the O's can't have is a repeat showing of 2017, and if he appears to be that same guy in his first handful of starts in April/May, it'll be tough for the O's to keep him on the roster.

So, back to the question above. My response: Tillman would get five bad starts, though that's probably too low. What do you think?


Jan Frel said...

I think it's contingent on how well the rest of the starters are doing. If 3 of them roar out the gate, then there will be the sense that the O's are a winning team... let's cut our losses. 4 starts

Unknown said...

The month of April only and if he is not getting blown out by the 3rd or fourth innings. If he is getting blown out without any improvement sooner!

Pip said...

What did The Powers see that made it worthwhile giving him a major-league deal in the first place, and then retaining him throughout spring training despite his apparently bad performance?
Either they are unreasonably committed to him regardless of performance, in which case they'll dump him only when The replacements offer obviously better performance, or they will dump him when whatever hopeful characteristics they saw or were hoping to see go away or fail to appear. I expect that unless he has an encouraging first start, when Cobb returns, he will be gone.
I do not know whether or not Tillman's final spring training start would be considered "encouraging." Considering his recent performance, I would suggest not.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Why would they sign him to a major league deal and then dump him during spring training? I'm not following, unless your point is just to question the major league deal and $3 million minimum to begin with.

I can't imagine there is any way they get rid of him after one start, no matter how terrible he is.

I was against bringing Tillman back, but I believe they'll at least give him a handful of starts to reestablish himself. I am not optimistic that'll happen.

the muse said...

Perhaps we will all be surprised. Right. I am somehow reminded of the quote from Everet Dirkson.. to paraphrase "A million here, a million there, pretty soon it adds up to real money." Being a lifelong Orioles fan, Iwas spoinled by the Palmer, McNally, Cuellar, Dobson, Stone, Flanagan, Martinez, etc., etc. All of them never made 3 million dollars in their careers (maybe Palmer). To run these guys out there and pay them millions to pitch piss poor, is disgusting. Someone is rolling over in his grave, probably Bamberger.
As usual, my hopes this year are likely to be dashed upon the rocks of the American League East. I would give Tillman the month of April, then toss it to someone else who can't be mmuch worse and gets a whole lot less in undeserved pay.

Pip said...

I did ask why they gave him a major-league deal in the first place when no one else was offering more than minor-league deal. The obvious but inadequate answer was that they saw something that they thought was worth a major league deal.
My comment references that.
If they think they saw something positive, or were hoping to get something positive, then he will last until they are sure that that is a forlorn hope.
Given his poor spring training, I dont think that will be long.
That's why the length of leash he's getting now has a lot to do with the reason they brought them back in the first place despite all the warning signs.
It is possible, but really unlikely, that they just brought him back because he was familiar and he was cheap.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Most likely, they're betting on Tillman's track record because they know him better than anyone else. I'm sure the relatively cheap deal played a part, sure.

whaler said...

In today's salary numbers, 3mil makes for decent severence pay. Cynically, I am given to the opinion that management does not expect to contend with this lineup, but are playing to the fan base in order to avoid a mass exodus from Camden and MASN. I am saying Tillman will get no more than 2 horrible April starts. If he mixes in 50% decent starts, his 2018 farewell tour will last into May. He will retire before Sepember.

Anonymous said...

How long was Ubaldo's? Gallardo's? Miley's?

the muse said...

Is that what you want to emulate?
Those guys had chains around them so heavy they brought the whole team to the bottom of the bay. Give him a couple starts, if he flops, put him on the unable to perform list (wait, that's the Ravens). Release him, let him become Arrieta somewhere else and give someone from AAA a chance. If you're going to go down, at least aim for the future.

Unknown said...

May 15th.