Chris Tillman was a late addition to the American League All-Star team last season after going 11-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 19 starts. He's staying home this summer after going 7-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 20 starts.
As you may have noticed, there's not a significant difference in runs allowed. And Tillman has registered six quality starts in his last seven outings.
"I think the one area that's been more of a challenge for him is the walks," said manager Buck Showalter after today's 3-0 loss to the Yankees. "He'd like to get that a little under control. But he's done a better job in the first inning or two. I think it bodes well, hopefully, for the rest of the season because he seems to be getting more consistent mechanically as we go. I hope that's the case. We're going to need him."
Is Showalter satisfied with the first half?
"Me or him?" he asked, grinning. "You understand how hard it is to do, but at the same time, we as teammates, coaching staff, which we all feel like we're the same, we want to figure out a way for a guy to be as good as he can every time out there. Chris, on a given night, has a level that puts him up in the high status."
Shane Greene, making only his second major league start, was the better pitcher today. He shut out the Orioles on four hits over 7 1/3 innings.
"Breaking ball, a late break," Showalter said. "We knew it coming in, that he would present a problem. A lot of teams, just like he did his last outing ... That's why he was Pitcher of the Year in their organization last year. He's got good stuff, a good plane. A good slider and command of it. I think their club threw 54 offspeed pitches today.
"Two-seamer, both sides of the plate, a few changups, a lot of sliders, a cutter here and there."
A mixed bag that mixed up the Orioles, who were shut out for the seventh time this season.
Is there a certain amount of uncertainty, as it were, when facing a pitcher without a track record in the majors? They seem to baffle the Orioles.
"It's not really uncertainty," Showalter said. "There's so much information. You watch every pitch they've thrown. There's no substitute for getting in the box off them, just like ... 4 o'clock start, 1 o'clock start, 7 o'clock start, you're going to have success if you do what he did today."
Tillman may usually find success when leaving a game in the seventh with only two runs on the board, but not with Greene leaving the Orioles feeling blue.
"Good," Showalter said when describing Tillman's outing. "It's another one of those that kind of gets looked at, not properly appreciated, because of what the other guy was doing.
"(Tillman) kept us engaged there 1-0. We had a really good relay down the right field line, Jonesy (Adam Jones) threw another guy out at the plate, so I'm proud of that. We just couldn't mount much off a guy who was on top of his game today."
The Orioles are 4-11 at home and 15-19 overall in day games this season.