Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman could be the comeback player of 2018
The Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman set a new low for starting pitchers in 2017.
Of pitchers with 19 or more starts, the long-time Baltimore Orioles starter was the worst pitcher in the entire MLB.
But, there is a positive coming into the 2018 season. Chris Tillman has nowhere to go but up – or down, if you’re thinking ERA.
And, if the right-handed 29-year-old can pull it together in 2018, he could easily become the comeback player of the 2018 season.
The damage in 2017
Along with the atrocious ERA, Tillman’s other stats were equally abysmal. He posted 6.1 strikeouts per nine, nearly five (4.9) walks per nine, and 2.3 home runs per nine. He even managed to drop a mile per hour off of his fastball velocity. According to Fangraphs, he threw his fastball 50 percent of the time, which was a 6 percent drop from 2016. He compensated with his cutter. And, batters loved him. Over his career, he has thrown his fastball 60 percent of the time. There was clearly something wrong and he couldn’t figure it out in 2017.
Comeback players in 2017
Unfortunately, fans aren’t too concerned with the “Comeback Players of the Year.” I had to look up who won the award in 2017. According to CBS Sports, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland won the award in 2017. Also, according to the site, the requirements for the award are very small:
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"“The only criterion for the award is that it goes to the player in each league who ‘re-emerged on the field during the season.’ There’s no injury requirement or anything like that.”"
Thirty men, one from each team, are nominated for this honor. Then, beat writers (think Brittany Ghiroli) get to vote. The nominated players’ names are never shared and neither are the vote totals.
Returning from tough surgeries
Holland had Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season. He missed all of the 2016 and came back to close 58 games and save 41 of them in 2017. His ERA was 3.61. Mike Moustakas had ACL surgery at the beginning of the 2016 season, so he only played in 27 games. In 2017, he returned and played in 148 games. He hit .272/.314/.521 with a career-high 38 home runs.
Next: Zach Britton on the road to recovery
The O’s could have two potential Comeback Players for 2018. If Zach Britton can return from his Achilles injury and pitch better than he did in 2017, he could be an even better candidate for the award. Unfortunately, the rules would only allow one Oriole to even be nominated.