Before making his first big league start of the year Wednesday, right-hander Chris Tillman talked about the importance of making his delivery more compact and fluid.
Tillman – who is 6 feet 5 – joked that the change was especially important for a “tall and goofy guy.”
On Wednesday, the Orioles began to see the payoff as Tillman held a light-hitting Mariners lineup to two hits and a pair of unearned runs over a career-high 8 1/3 innings in the Orioles' 4-2 win over Seattle.
Tillman’s main switch is using his hands more to begin his motion, which he said sets up a steady tempo for the rest of his delivery. Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair has employed a similar tweak with other Orioles starters, including right-hander Jason Hammel, this spring.
“The hands kind of set up everything else. They kind of set up the rhythm for my delivery,” Tillman said after Wednesday’s game. “It was just tightening up my leg kick. Everything kind of comes together with my hands and my leg kick. It’s come a long way."
Catcher Matt Wieters said it’s the best he’s seen Tillman since they were teammates at Bowie in 2008. Tillman was able to confidently mix his fastball – which was reaching 97 in the ninth inning – with a steady curveball and a change-up.
“All the reports coming up were that he was throwing the ball real well out here,” Wieters said. “I wanted to see what he was going to feature, so today was as good as I’ve seen him for a long time.
“When he have that curveball and be able to run the ball over the plate in the low to mid 90s, you have to pick one. You’re not going to able hit both of them. Any time you can make a big league hitter have to pick one you have some good going.”
Tillman’s outing earned him a spot in the rotation for the beginning of the second half of the season – when he hopes to repeat his results much like his reworked delivery.