A couple days ago, I took a look at the big league debut of Orioles’ top prospect Chris Tillman. The results were mixed, as he flashed good stuff, but his location was poor and he allowed 3 home runs. At the end of the post, a commenter remarked that, anecdotally, he had thought that Tillman’s had more movement that he showed in his debut, and that the lack of movement was possibly due to rain delay or first start jitters. Those certainly seemed like reasonable hypotheses to me, so I wanted to take a look at how his fastball looked during his second start last night:
As you can see, there is not much difference. The mean break on his fastball was a little lower, meaning his fastball had a little bit more drop to it this time; however, it appears that it is pretty straight. That’s may not be a bad thing, as he continued to average over 93 MPH on the heater, and the lack of movement compliments the movement on his offspeed pitches.
Another thing that I noticed about his last start was that his control was pretty bad. He didn’t throw a lot of strikes, and when he did, they were over the middle of the plate. Let’s take a look at how he was able to locate this time:
He still threw too many pitches down the middle in my opinion, but his control looked a little better this time. His curveball location was particularly wild; however, that’s not such a bad thing considering the movement he gets on that pitch. He was able to generate 5 swinging strikes on the curve on 32 attempts, good for an impressive 16% (league average is around 7% for all pitches); and he managed to get 10 swinging strikes overall in 100 pitches. Being able to get swings and misses is very important (in fact, swinging strike rate has about an .75 correlation to K rate), and having 1 out of every 10 pitches result in a swinging strike generally yields good results.
Overall, the this start were an improvement over his debut. He allowed 5 runs; but managed to complete six innings, while striking out 5 and walking 3. He also allowed a home run to Miguel Cabrera, but then again, most people in the league get killed by that guy.