Tillman has taken a few steps back after his first start of the season against Tampa Bay, in which he threw six no-hit, shutout innings while striking out five and walking three. He probably got a little lucky in that start, not to mention that it was just the second game of the season, but Tillman simply has not looked good in his last two appearances.
Here are the results of his three starts this season:
4/2 vs. TAM: 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 K, 3 BB
4/7 vs. DET: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 K, 2 BB
4/13 vs. NYY: 1.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 K, 1 BB
That's certainly not trending in the right direction. Hopefully he makes it out of the first inning in his next start. (I'm only joking. Sort of.) Also, PitchFx has Tillman's average fastball velocity at 88.4 mph so far in the early season. Again, he's only made three starts, but the loss in velocity is a concern. Maybe Tillman's hurt, maybe his mechanics are off, or maybe it's something else. MASN's Steve Melewski asked Tillman on Tuesday about his reduced velocity:
In fact, when I asked him recently if his velocity is down now from what it was in the high minors, he cited seeking better command as a reason the velocity is down and said, "if I need it, it's there."Tillman's command does seem to be better, but I'm not quite sure I buy that excuse. Anyway, maybe his velocity will pick back up after he throws more innings -- or maybe as the weather starts to heat up. Hopefully it happens soon.