Orioles game 1 preview: Chris Tillman, Francisco Rodriguez

Thearon W. Henderson

A PITCHf/x scouting report.

The Starter

By this time, most Rays fans will know Chris Tillman well, so this is mostly just a reminder. He is neither very good nor very interesting. I do have it on good authority, though, that his mother likes his curve. Last season he posted a 2.93 ERA despite mediocre peripherals, but this year his 3.70 ERA is more in line with what should be expected of him (Steamer projects a 4.41 ERA going forward).

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

Tillman's fastball sits in the low 90s, while his slider reaches the mid 80s, his changeup is in the low 80s, and his loopy 12-6 curve in the mid 70s. The vertical nature of all of his pitches (rising fastball, falling curve) help him maintain his neutral split, but it's not a great package overall. Tillman is a fly ball pitcher.

A Reliever

The Orioles reinforced their bullpen at the trade deadline by picking up Francisco Rodriguez, one of the best relief pitchers available. Closers who accumulate large numbers of saves while on good teams, sign enormous contracts, and then get hurt tend to be given a bad wrap. So while some of the disdain casually sent K-Rod's way is understandable, very little of it has to do with his production. He's been a very good relief pitcher, and he still is. So far this season, he's striking out 10.75 batters per nine innings while only walking 2.88 per nine. He does this with a low 90s rising fastball, a low to mid 80s falling changeup, and a mid 70s sweeping curve.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

He uses them as expected, with the curve and changeup in equal amounts against lefties, but the curve significantly more often against righties. Interestingly, he' s been close to platoon neutral over the course of his career but has posted (probably fluky) reverse splits in 2013.

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