Longtime Orioles starter Chris Tillman is making a comeback attempt, reports Britt Ghiroli of the Athletic. Tillman has been working with Dave Wallace, his former pitching coach in Baltimore, at Cressey Sports Performance in Florida since February, Wallace tells Ghiroli.
Tillman, who recently turned 33 years old, was a regular in the Orioles’ rotation for a good chunk of the last decade. He broke into the majors in 2009 and worked as up-and-down starting depth over the next couple seasons. By 2013, Tillman had locked down a permanent rotation spot, making at least 30 starts every year from 2013-16. He earned an All-Star berth in 2013 during a season in which he tossed 206 1/3 frames of 3.71 ERA ball.
After that highly productive four-year run, Tillman struggled mightily in 2017. Following an even worse start the following year, the Orioles cut bait. Tillman hooked on with the Rangers on a minor-league deal thereafter but didn’t make it back to the big leagues. He hasn’t pitched in a professional game since the end of that 2018 season, thanks in part to a June 2019 shoulder surgery. (Ghiroli notes that Tillman was attempting a comeback last spring before the COVID-19 shutdown).
Nearly three years removed from his most recent pro action, Tillman certainly faces long odds of returning to the majors. If he’s able to build back sufficient arm strength, though, it’s not out of the question he could find some interest from teams on a risk-free minor-league arrangement.
cripes, forgot he was only 33.
He always claimed I was his dad, but I don’t remember……..
But ya, 33….feels like he’s been around since Tom Phoebus…..
Phoebus! Reds? I’ll go check. Orioles! How could I forget.
I thought of Milt Pappas, not Phoebus. Traded to the Reds for Frank Robinson. Man, Frank Robinson was one helluva player, as good as anybody.
To this day, Robinson has the best swing I’ve ever seen.
Wow! That says a lot. I think Griffey Jr’s swing is my tops. Then bonds.
Back in my day, we didn’t have the media like ESPN et al, so I never really saw Aaron/Mays etc. except for those rare Saturday /All Star games; I always thought Frank Robbie was the ultimate; nothing he couldn’t do, Absolutely killed the Red Sox on a routine basis…if he didn’t, Brooks did. I think Frank was the one player who would do SOMETHING everyday to beat you.
Swings? Strawberry still on top for me….pure explosion.
I recall Ted Williams saying that he was disappointed in Griffey because (paraphrasing) ‘with his swing, he should’ve done more’.
I will defer to you and Ted, but I loved Robinson’s swing. It could because I was comparing Frank’s swing to his contemporaries. Past those two, I loved Carew & Mattingly. Unlike so many other players, they had no cold spots in the strike zone. Anything on the outside part of the plate was almost a ground rule double for those two.
That’s funny because my Aunt hated it when Boog Powell came up. The Orioles pretty much took turns beating on the Red Sox for many a year.
Oh ya, Boog killed the Sox a hundred times…or Mark Belanger would put his Ozzie Smith outfit on, and start a double play…or Paul Blair, who played the “prettiest” (as in no effort, none at all) would catch a fly ball he had no business catching…
Those O’s were something back then…oh, and they had a pitcher or two….
brave from the woods
Hey, if he can get people out for an inning or two consistently, the Braves bullpen can use all the help it can get.
Hosmer for HOF
Then so am I!
tillman one of the most overrated sp of all time, one good year
He pitched in the al east and has a winning record.
i don’t think anyone rates him very highly…
I don’t know what your definition is of a “good year,” but according to most analysts he had at least 4 good years, maybe even 5. Unless you are limiting “good years” to being and All Star, in which case you are seriously undervaluing the majority of players.
He had 3 full seasons with a sub 4 ERA. I don’t count small sample sizes. Orioles fans always overrate their players, as evidenced by the current crop of underperforming, young “saviors”.
“Underperforming”??? Which ones? Are you talking about their two premier pitching prospects in DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez who are already off to a hot start? Or are you speaking on Gunnar Henderson who already has 3 long balls in a week of baseball?
Will there be a poor performance? sure. We’re a week into the minor league, let’s not overreact.
Remain calm. As usual, someone online fully believes they can read my thoughts when, in reality, they’re coming out of left field. Mountcastle, Harvey (the IL one), Sisco and Hays (is he on the IL today?) aren’t looking like much of a future. For those in the minor leagues, they have to graduate AND perform well in Baltimore before they can be taken seriously. In the mean time, they’re just prospects.
Which year was that? Was it 2013 when he was 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA and 110 ERA+; or was it 2012 when he was 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 144 ERA+; or perhaps 2016 when he was 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA and a 114 ERA+; or 2014 when he was 13-6 with a 3.36 ERA with a 118 ERA+ and led the league in starts? He had four straight years with 30+ starts and averaged about 190 innings, so it’s not immediately obvious the one you selected and the ones you rejected.
Scott cousins.. break a leg out there with these comments. 4 pretty good seasons say otherwise
I would love to know your top 5 of most overrated starting pitchers of all time. As an O’s fan, I can tell you that the people in MLB did not rate him high. He was solid from 2012-2016… “solid.” Nobody was saying he was Kershaw, Scherzer, or someone to that level.
Wow, there’s a name I haven’t thought about in awhile. I hope that he can make it back. Considering everything that Jonny Venters went through, it’s not like it isn’t possible.
Venters was under major league contracts the entire time though. He had the best equipment, training, doctors, trainers and medicine at his disposal the entire time. He was also picking up a major league salary the entire time so his recovery was literally the only thing he ever had to focus on. I don’t know if all that makes a difference but it seems like it could. Tillman hasn’t been in that situation at all. Not to mention, even with all that extra benefit, Venters only had 1 decent year as a reliever after all that and then he was totally done. Venters wasn’t even really that good during the year he won comeback player. It had a lot more to do with what he went through to get there than it did him actually being a reliable major leaguer.
so his recovery was literally the only thing he ever had to focus on.
I’m curious what Tillman has to focus on that is different than Venters? Sign up for one of those professional rehab places (API/Exos) and do nothing but work out and throw for 12-18 months.
He could do that and I’m sure it would help. Obviously NOW building up is all Tillman has to focus on. What I meant is Tillman hasn’t been in any baseball organization for 3 years at this point. Venters never went through a lapse like that. Tillman went through a multi-year period where he wasn’t focused on playing baseball whereas Venters was working towards coming back with various major league franchises the entire time. Venters never took a break from baseball. He was always expected to make another appearance at the majors because teams kept signing him, paying him and helping him out medically and with training. That hasn’t been going on with Tillman at all. Everyone gave up on him years ago and he stopped receiving all of the health and training benefits that come along with being under a major league contract. There was no gap in time when Venters stopped focusing on pitching in Major League baseball because there was always some team that was paying him in hopes he was coming back. Tillman hasn’t had that benefit. That’s all I meant.
Wouldn’t mind seeing the Jays taking a chance on him.
Good Luck Chris!
A key guy in one of the better “ace for prospects” deals of the 21st century. At least better for the team getting the prospects anyway. The Orioles did better than most teams do in those deals dealing Erik Bedard at his peak and picking up Adam Jones, Tillman, and George Sherrill who was decent as closer for a couple years.
Deals like that is why the Mariners basically wasted Ichiro’s first decade in the majors.
Good blast from the past trade reference. That trade was interesting and surprising for Seattle. Bedard had always had injury problems with Baltimore and he was finally getting on track. The Orioles were out of it and said they would trade him but only if the team that acquired him “viewed Bedard as an ace.” That made a lot of teams back off. I remember the Yankees were interested but not at the price Baltimore wanted. Even Seattle wasn’t ready to give up that much. Then Bedard started having injury troubles again. For some reason it was only then that Seattle decided to trade what they did to get him and they still traded like he was an ace. They gave up way too much and of course Bedard was injured frequently and disappointing. It’s weird. Seattle wouldn’t trade for him as an ace when he was healthy but as soon as he started getting injured again it seems like they were thinking, “Okay. He’s injured again. NOW he actually is an ace.” and then Seattle pulled the trigger. This was when the Yankees were owned by George Steinbrenner, too. That guy wanted to trade Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for a bunch of nobody’s. The Yankees still weren’t giving up what Baltimore wanted for Bedard. That should have been a sign for the Mariners right there. If “Trade Every Single Prospect for a Veteran” George Steinbrenner thinks you are giving up to much for 1 injury prone player… You are definitely giving up too much for that injury prone player.
Injury risk + grade A a-hole + impending free agency = trade bait
Bedard was a jerk? I don’t know much about him as a National League fan. What did he do? Did he spend too much time hanging out with Padres pitchers and start doing home invasions by sneaking into people’s houses through the doggy door? Then tell the cops he thought it was his house even though his house doesn’t have a dog or a doggy door? Or is that just a San Diego thing?
This is such an interesting thing that I feel MLB has seen in excess recently… comeback attempts. I know they’ve happened for years, but now – especially with pitchers – it feels like guys are trying this all the time.
If modern sports training and medicine can allow guys to take 5 years off from a PROFESSIONAL sport and come back at even a below-average level, that’s a pretty big revelation. These are guys that may not have even trained for extended periods during their ~5 years off, and yet they can return to this ever-expanding league and still live to see another day. That’s incredible. Kazmir, Bard, Tillman, Jose Bautista (lol)… if those guys can make comebacks as pitchers then we may be seeing something new MLB can lean into soon: Quality returns from formerly-retired players.
Countless players missed multiple years during WWII and came back and still contributed successful years. Pro players have been making comeback attempts for years. These guys had enough talent to get there once so some being able to comeback and still have something to offer is not much of a surprise. With many I think a valid argument could be made thag the years away from the game saved their bodies a lot of wear and tear. In Tillman’s case I hope it works out and he is able to enjoy a few more years playing at MLB level.
Time away certainly did wonders for Buster Posey. Some guys play much of their careers through chronic injuries that don’t fully heal until they take a year fully off. Who knows if that’s why Tillman became ineffective.
Hey. Tim Tebow just re-signed with an NFL team. Anything can happen.
He was good for awhile.
As a Jays fan I wondered where he wen.t
Godspeed brother, I can always root for a man who never gives up on his craft
Exactly, better to see the guy yearning for another chance and probably pulling a minimum deal over the many guys cashing paychecks and mailing it in. The deck is stacked against him, but it makes for a good story.
thank you for not saying he’s still only 33 years old
Tillman had a good run in Birdland, always have rooted for more success from him
I hope that somewhere in the past three years he found an out pitch, because his biggest issue in Baltimore was he could get to two strikes but couldn’t finish anyone.
Such a huge issue for so many pitchers. Guys like MDC from the RS were really hard to hit. But because he couldn’t get that 3rd strike, he never managed to put the batter away.
that’s why tillman is coming back. he doesn’t need an out pitch. batters strike out enough already.
With how bad the Angels pitching is, they should take a flyer on Tillman.. its not as if .. well, he probably could be worse, but I doubt it..