Among all the stats we could research, discuss, analyze and over-analyze involving Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, one that looks darn good on his resume is the Orioles’ winning percentage in games that he starts.
Tillman went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA last season. Over 172 innings, he allowed 155 hits with 66 walks, 140 strikeouts and a .244 batting average against. He made 30 starts and the Orioles went 22-8 in those games. It, of course, was not all Tillman’s doing. He needs run support and defense, among other things, to win games. But the Orioles were 14 games over .500 in his starts, while second-best on the staff among starters was two games over .500. In a 2016 season where the Orioles had a winning percentage of .549 as a team, they had a win percentage of .733 in Tillman’s starts.
Since the 2012 season, the Orioles have the fourth-best winning percentage in the majors at .548 (444-366). During that time they have a win percentage of .643 (92-51) when Tillman starts. A team with that winning percentage for a full year would have 104 victories.
Major league best win-loss percentage (min. 500 IP) since 2012:
.745 - Zach Greinke
.724 - Max Scherzer
.712 - Clayton Kershaw
.672 - David Price
.663 - Chris Tillman
Pitchers such as Johnny Cueto (.658), Jake Arrieta (.644) and Madison Bumgarner (.625) trail Tillman in that span in win-loss percentage.
“Chris has been a rock, through thick and thin,” O’s skipper Buck Showalter said Saturday at FanFest. “For a good portion of our season last year, he was being talked about as a Cy Young candidate. Physically, it got away from him a little bit and then he got back on track at the end.
“Someone said, ‘But this is a contract year for Chris.’ Every year is. Chris would be the first to tell you, ‘Hey, I’m making enough money this year.’ He’s doing it for a different reason. Obviously, he’d like to spend the rest of his career here in Baltimore.”
Since that 2012 season, Tillman is 65-33 with an ERA of 3.81. He has had four strong seasons and one mediocre one in 2015. He has thrown 170 innings or more four times with an ERA of 3.77 or less four times. Fielding independent pitching (FIP) is still not his friend, however, and his career mark is 4.45. The actual results tell a different tale.
Tillman, and his pitching staff teammates, face some adjustments this year. They will be throwing to a new catcher in Welington Castillo, and Tillman will be working with his sixth different pitching coach in Baltimore.
“Makes me feel old,” he said Saturday. “It will be tough without Wheaty (Matt Wieters). He’s still available and it would be awesome to have him back. If not, Caleb (Joseph) has been with him long enough and I think he’s more than ready to take over. And Welington, I’ve heard nothing but good things about. He seems awesome and I don’t see any problems going forward.
“I feel like I’ve gotten to know him (pitching coach Roger McDowell) pretty good. Seems like an awesome guy. Talked to him on the phone and then at the minicamp. Awesome. It seems to me he’s kind of the same as Dave (Wallace) and Dom (Chiti). Very similar. That is my read so far.”
The Orioles band is back together for the most part for the 2017 season and that also meets Tillman’s approval.
“I like it. We had a good team and we had fun,” he said. “We have a real close clubhouse and I think that is a big part of it that fans don’t get to see. When you are a tight-knit group and work together well and have a lot of friends on the team, not just teammates, that makes all the difference in the world. I like our team.”
Tillman is due to make $10.05 million this season, his last before he can become a free agent. The Orioles probably don’t want to ponder a future without a pitcher they’ve had in their organization since February 2008. But as of yet, any extension talks seem to have not gone very far.
What about a deal where Tillman earned salaries of $13, $15, $18 and $20 million the next four seasons? Would a four-year deal for a total of $66 million get it done?
At a time when pitcher wins are valued less than ever (and probably rightfully so), can we deny that stellar win-loss percentage with Tillman on the mound? He probably flies under the national radar, but in Baltimore, we have seen that his starts consistently outperform the team as a whole.
MASR today: I’ll be on “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” panel later today talking baseball on MASN from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.