Tillman has given up just one earned run over 11 1/3 innings in his past two starts. Over his last six starts, he is 4-2 with an ERA of 2.19 and opposing batters are hitting just .175 off him in those starts. Tillman’s next Triple-A start is set for tomorrow night.
Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin recently talked with me about Tillman on my radio show on 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore.
“About two side sessions before he started this roll that he’s on now, I could tell everything was starting to click. I just started to see the fastball command get better consistency and saw his curveball get better consistency from start to start,” Griffin said.
“Right now, his fastball is on a good downhill plane with late life and he’s very aggressive in the strike zone with four pitches and has a good four-pitch mix lately. I’m knocking on wood that he can continue on this roll because I feel very good where he is at right now.”
So what happened or changed for the better recently for Tillman?
“The command. Basically the overall command of four pitches. I see his curveball now with better 12-6 depth to it than I’ve seen in the past. The cutter has had better consistency than earlier in the year. Those combined with his fastball and changeup have made him better from pitch-to-pitch,” Griffin said.
Tillman is 7-8 with a 3.76 ERA overall for the Tides. He has walked 29 and fanned 85 in 83 2/3 innings. Lefty batters are hitting .229 against him and right-handed batters are hitting .277.
Meanwhile, after struggling some in his first three Norfolk starts, Zach Britton gave up just two runs and four hits in his last outing for Norfolk on Thursday.
Griffin said Britton’s most recent bullpen session - before that start - was outstanding and he was feeling that Britton was getting better. He said he feels this is Britton’s spring training after he missed time with shoulder inflammation.
“He feels 100 percent right now,” Griffin said of Britton.
Griffin did confirm that Britton’s velocity may have been down a tick or two in his first few Norfolk starts, but said that was not a concern to him.
“That is part of it, but I’m not worried about his velocity. It will be there as he continues to get mound time,” Griffin said.