The Baltimore Orioles’ rotation will get some help on Sunday when Chris Tillman returns from the disabled list to make his 2017 debut. Tillman will face Jose Quintana and the Chicago White Sox in this outing as he looks to help the Orioles catch the New York Yankees.
The timing couldn’t be better for Tillman to return. Star closer Zach Britton is headed to the disabled list which will leave late-inning responsibilities to Brad Brach and Mychal Givens. Both of them have remained exceptional. Those two may see more save opportunities arise now that Tillman is back. Unless, of course, the 2015 version is the one who shows up.
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Last season was a pretty good one for Tillman. He finished with a very strong 16-6 record and 3.77 ERA. It was a huge improvement over the 2015 season which saw him go 11-11 with a 4.99 ERA. As far as WAR goes, he tied his career best with a 3.9 total.
Tillman isn’t just pitching to help the Orioles win. This is his contract year and an amazing performance could land him a very big deal. At only 29 years old, Tillman is younger than many other free agent pitchers when they reach their free agent offseason. His pursuit of a big deal begins on Sunday when the surprisingly competitive White Sox and their ace look to ruin the party.
Several White Sox hitters have already given Tillman a tough time in the past. Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera have faced him the most and hit him hard. In addition to them, Tillman will have to deal with a new-and-improved version of Avisail Garcia.
It may not be a long day for Tillman regardless of how well he pitches. Manager Buck Showalter would be wise to limit his day. Tillman is not exactly an innings eater anyway, so it’s safe to assume he gets the hook after five or six innings unless something magical is happening.
The last time Tillman faced the White Sox was in August 2016 in Chicago. He went six innings, allowed three earned runs and went home with the loss. It took Tillman 110 pitches to get out of that one. Most likely, he sees fewer in this game.