Game 111, Mariners at Orioles

marc w · August 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Jason Vargas vs. Chris Tillman, 4:05pm

Chris Tillman’s difficult to figure out. The second piece in the Erik Bedard trade (or maybe the co-#1 piece), Tillman’s raw stuff had scouts drooling, and while his performance record didn’t quite match up to the stuff, he’d been at High Desert for much of it. Moving up to AA in the Orioles system, Tillman put it all together and became one of the game’s best pitching prospects. He was just as solid in AAA, and moved up to the Orioles mid way through 2009.

Like many young hurlers, Tillman got lit up in his first taste of MLB. His stuff was good, but he wasn’t sitting in the mid-90s like he had in 2007-8. His curve was good, but it wasn’t getting swinging strikes like it should (under 9% of curves went for whiffs in 2009 – that’s Blake-Beavan-in-2011 territory). He was a fastball/curve pitcher who didn’t throw a two-seamer and gave up a ton of fly balls and wasn’t missing bats; predictably, he gave up too many long balls, and he started 2010 back in the minors.

When he returned, he was a different pitcher, and that doesn’t mean he’d corrected the flaws in his game. He started out averaging 91-92 with his fastball, but this was down to the high 80s after July. His K rate continued to decline, and he suddenly couldn’t find the strikezone – he finished 2010 with an even K:BB ratio, and his HR rate was *still* terrible. It’s not often that you say that a pitcher with lots of HRs allowed and an RA over 6 got lucky, but Tillman benefitted from a low BABIP that year; this was the only thing that went right for him.

He started 2011 with the Orioles, but struggled again and was sent down a few times. He had a tantalizing boost in velocity after returning from one stint in AAA, but it didn’t last long, and the Orioles gave up after he gave up 6 runs in less than 3 innings to the punchless White Sox. At this point, Tillman was another object lesson in the high failure rate of pitching prospects, a possible waiver wire claim for some team that thought they could ‘fix’ him, or a guy who might benefit from playing in Japan or Korea for a year or two. As it was, the Orioles kept him and after a solid start to 2012 in the minors, he made his debut with the Orioles in early July against the M’s.

You probably remember what happened there – he averaged 95mph with his fastball and showed off a power cutter at 93. The curve had bite, and his change-up wasn’t bad. All told, he carved up the M’s on his way to 8 1/3 IP of shutout ball with 7 Ks and only 2 walks. Here was the Ryan Vogelsong of 2012, the guy who everyone had given up on who finally breaks through after resurrecting his early form. Made for a great story, unless you’re an M’s fan who’s still pissed off about the Bedard trade.

Unfortunately, it may not last. Tillman touched 95 in his second start, but his average dropped a bit. With every subsequent start, it’s dropped more. He hasn’t hit 95 in quite a while, and the average is back in the low-90s. Now that’s better than the 88-89 he was at for much of 2010-11, but it makes it look much less likely that he can sustain the stuff he showed against the M’s a month ago.
Tillman Velocity chart

The M’s send out a pretty standard line-up against a right-hander like Tillman – Jaso’s back behind the plate and Mike Carp returns to the line-up at 1B. Brendan Ryan’s still out, so the lefty Kawasaki plays SS.
1: Ackley
2: Saunders (CF)
3: Montero (DH)
4: Jaso (C)
5: Seager
6: Carp
7: Wells (LF)
8: Thames (RF)
9: Kawasaki
SP: Vargas

Larry Stone notes that Tony Gwynn Jr. was DFA’d by Milwaukee today, and wonders if Zduriencik wouldn’t bring in a guy he drafted. Dave Cameron points out that there’s not a lot of room for him, particularly with Thames in the squad, but you never know. Zduriencik’s shown some loyalty to guys he drafted for the Brewers, which you can’t really fault when it produces the occasional Tom Wilhelmsen. I’m doubtful Gwynn would be a fit here, no matter who the M’s scouting director is, but I wouldn’t bet any money against it.

The Rainiers are at Cheney tonight taking on the New Orleans Zephyrs. Steve Garrison starts for Tacoma. Not the best of match-ups, prospect wise, but if you’re in the area, just look outside. AA Jackson faces the Tennessee Smokies, as the M’s top prospect Taijuan Walker goes for the Generals. He had one of his worst starts against the Smokies a few weeks back, but he’s psyched up after watching the US Women’s team’s amazing Olympic semi-final against Canada, so I think he’ll be fine tonight. Everett’s in town tonight too, so if you’re in the north end, I’d go see Mike Zunino in balmy 70s-80s temperatures.


49 Responses to “Game 111, Mariners at Orioles”

  1. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 4:08 pm

    I would like to see Vargas keep the ball in the park, tonight – but that is tough duty for him in this yard.

  2. TherzAlwaysHope on August 6th, 2012 4:21 pm

    Might as well say it again: why the f***k did we trade AJ? Arrrgh!!!

  3. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 4:27 pm

    I’d take a healthy Guti over Jones any day.

    Problem is, getting a healthy Guti…

  4. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 4:32 pm

    Two cross country flights and the birth of a child – in 2+ days … It’s fairly astounding that Carp is vertical, let alone rested enough to be able to play in a major league game.

  5. vetted_coach on August 6th, 2012 4:39 pm

    “I’d take a healthy Guti over Jones any day.”

    So would Bill Bavasi. How can you prefer a very good defensive center fielder who hits .260 over a very good defensive center fielder who hits .300 with more power?

    (Dropped relay by Kawasaki…and, again, what is he doing on a major league baseball club?)

  6. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 4:42 pm

    So far, Vargas is doing a good job of finding the middle of the plate. He has visibly been upset with himself a few times for missing his spots. I hope he can “find it” soon.

  7. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 4:44 pm

    By “very good CF who hits .260” you mean possibly the best CF in baseball.

  8. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 4:45 pm

    Adam Jones is not a particularly good defensive center fielder. His UZR over the years has been consistently negative.

  9. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:00 pm

    Someone needs to jump start this shit. Time for a bomb!

    Have some fun. Generate some runs.

  10. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:00 pm

    Saunders draws a walk… it’d be nice if the Mariners could actually DO something with a baserunner.

  11. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:04 pm

    Montero sure is happy at the plate. What’s so funny about being down by three runs?

  12. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:05 pm

    … And he watched strike 3. Presumably, souring his mood.

  13. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:06 pm

    Have these guys forgotten they’re supposed to be fantastic new hitters now?

    Heading into the fourth inning, still looking for their first hit. Seems like old times…

  14. dchappelle on August 6th, 2012 5:09 pm

    Marc – you really are awesome for doing these write-ups. Truly a labor of love and I for one am very thankful you take the time.

  15. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 5:13 pm

    I think dchappelle speaks for all of us

  16. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:18 pm

    Someone get a

    … Finally

  17. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:19 pm

    Come on Wells. Pick it up!

  18. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:21 pm

    Pitch tracker makes it look like Wells caught a break on that pitch he took…

    But it all evened out.

    Wells has been tanking for the last few weeks.

  19. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 5:22 pm

    He’s just not squaring anything up. When was Wells’ last hit?

  20. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:27 pm

    He’s had just one hit in the past seven days. Of course, that was a homer!

  21. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:33 pm

    Muni does it! Bunt “double”! hehehehehe

    (yes I know it’s not a double)

    Please, Wedge, don’t have Ackley bunt.

  22. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 5:38 pm

    Seriously, guys? Couldn’t bring in the run?

  23. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 5:41 pm

    Oh well, guess I’d better brave traffic and head home.

    That should lead to three or four Mariners runs…

  24. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 5:42 pm

    lol, do it, Westy!

  25. marcus_andrews on August 6th, 2012 5:45 pm

    Vetted coach, you can’t be completely condescending towards another poster with no facts at all. Jones has never once hit .300 and his defense has always rated well below Gutierrez’s. You can’t describe their defense as equal and then claim a batting average to Jones that flat out doesn’t exist. If you want career years then Guti is a .283 hitter with all world defense and some power while Jones is a .291 hitter with more power but less defense.

  26. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 5:53 pm


  27. argh on August 6th, 2012 5:56 pm

    Looks like the Ms are regressing to their ugly mean.

  28. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:03 pm

    Vargas battled back for a “quality start”. Good job by him.

    Offense now, please

  29. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:05 pm

    Seahawks signed TO to a one year deal … Just announced. For whomever might care.

  30. taylor.mariner on August 6th, 2012 6:05 pm

    I’m sitting in the same parking spot I was in when we lost to CC and the Yankees a few days ago… Curse this parking spot.

  31. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 6:06 pm

    Mike, LOL

  32. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 6:09 pm

    Muni!– oh well, RBI

  33. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:11 pm

    Dammit – giving up another precious out.

    It’s an epidemic with this team.

    Horseshit base running and/or coaching. With the game tying run coming to the plate.


  34. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:13 pm

    It’s 107 degrees here today – or maybe only 103 (depending on which thermostat to believe) and it is making me cranky as hell. Even inside with quality AC.

    Cranky. As. Hell

    Relish the fact you can be in a parking spot without frying your brain.

    RUNS – now!!!

  35. vetted_coach on August 6th, 2012 6:16 pm

    Oh well.

    Sorry, the guy is cute and probably friendly and cheery and all, but you simply can’t have incomplete baseball players on a major league roster. That was an important run. This is not summer league soccer. His mistakes are glaring.

    It’s the small things. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. There are quality mlb infielders on the waiver wire every day. Izturis and Baker were picked up just today.

  36. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:16 pm

    You swing at shit in the dirt and then let strike three go by. Come on numb nuts!

  37. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:18 pm

    This team needs more Royals, more injury depleted Blue Jays or more “cowbell.”

  38. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:22 pm


  39. The_Waco_Kid on August 6th, 2012 6:26 pm

    Man, they gotta get Vargas the win. Come on, M’s!

  40. marcus_andrews on August 6th, 2012 6:27 pm

    Seriously though, Muni is a likable person and all that, but Luis Rodriguez would be much better in the role Kawasaki is playing right now. He’s gotta go regardless of how likable he is. He’s a bad baseball player.

  41. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:32 pm

    Got a break!

    Crank it up, Thames.

    Dial 8

  42. msfanmike on August 6th, 2012 6:39 pm

    Luis Rodriguez would be a big step up from the role Figgins is playing … I would get rid of Figgins first – but yeah, there is not much more of an argument than that.

    It would mean an approximate $18K per week salary for Luis and why spend that kind of dough when you don’t have to. Luis has had a lot of chances at the MLB level and maybe he deserves another one, but he is the epitome of a replacement level player.

  43. argh on August 6th, 2012 7:05 pm

    Haven’t seen much replacement level baseball out of the Mariners the last 3 games (aside from their rotation of course).

  44. stevemotivateir on August 6th, 2012 8:55 pm

    “How can you prefer a very good defensive center fielder who hits .260 over a very good defensive center fielder who hits .300 with more power?”

    A healthy Guti hit .280 in his rookie season. His defense more than makes up for the lack of power -which wouldn’t likely translate to Safeco anyway.

    Really wish you’d quit talking-down to the fans here, like you’re some kind of know-it-all.

  45. stevemotivateir on August 6th, 2012 8:59 pm

    I’m actually surprised Louis Rodriguez hasn’t replaced Figgins yet. There’s been some serious delays with demotions and promotions.

  46. Westside guy on August 6th, 2012 10:17 pm

    I wonder if, with Guti out, Figgins ability to man the outfield has played some role in the organization’s choice to keep him around.

    Stop laughing, I’m serious. STOP IT. I said QUIT LAUGHING.

    Okay, I have no good idea either. Maybe the organization is punishing Figgins for getting bad so quickly.

  47. stevemotivateir on August 6th, 2012 10:26 pm

    ^He’s the only utility player that can handle the infield and outfield, so yeah, I’d guess it probably does influence their decisions. I swear, one day it’s gonna hit them…. “Hey, wait a sec… we’ve had a .178 hitter with bad defense, occupying a roster spot this whole time?!”

  48. henryv on August 6th, 2012 11:14 pm

    I think given the absence of anyone actually interesting to call up, they’re just screwing with Figgy.

    I imagine they gave him the locker between Brenden Ryan and Olivo, and across from Vargas. Like being stuck between a 8 year old on crack, both Harry and Lloyd, and Uncle Fester.

    And every morning Jack Z calls him up in his hotel room, about 4:30 in the morning and says “You retiring? No? You’re sure? Okay.”

    That is immediately followed by Rick Griffin walking in and saying “You hurt? Really? Dang, okay.”

    The team is probably testing him a few times a day for steroids, HGH, or anything that can get him suspended.

    The team probably rents him a moped on road trips, and makes lots of restaurant reservations under Chone Figgins, leaves his cell number, and never shows up.

    And he keeps showing up. Doesn’t complain. Gotta give him props for that.

  49. msfanmike on August 7th, 2012 10:25 am

    I can’t discount any of Henry’s theories … and I didn’t actually laugh all that long at Westy’s premise that the team has kept Figgins for his “versatility.”

    What is troubling, however, is the fact that some team (San Franscisco) is still paying Aaron Rowand $12M per year … and he was let go. He has arguably been even less useful over the past 3 seasons as Figgins – while making more money than Figgins. He is not on anybody’s roster in 2012 – and he is making $12M dollars!

    Let me comprehend that for a minute … as incomprehensible as it sounds. Arguably less useful than Figgins. Hmmmm.

    The Giants bit the bullet and cleared a roster spot. They discarded the useless piece. They added by subtracting. Why can’t the Mariners do the same? They have a warm body somewhere to fill the “enormous gap” that will be left with Figgins’ departure.

    Why don’t they have the guts to release Figgins? Are they really afraid that Anaheim will gobble him up and he will become the player he once was? It boggles the mind.

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