With Brian Matusz going on the DL (out 3-6 weeks) with an intercostal strain (rib cage / back), Chris Tillman’s start was moved up a day and Zach Britton will take the latter’s spot on Sunday. That, I think, is a bad move. In the Quest for .500 (!), the team is make a short-sighted decision. Britton over, say, Rick VandenHurk is maybe a half-win over the time that Matusz is out. Maybe. In return, the O’s are potentially giving up an entire year* of team control over Britton. Sure I’ll be excited to see him, but this is the kind of (process) thing that concerned me with the signing of Vlad and Gregg. The team seems like they’re valuing incremental improvements in 2011 way more highly than they should – there’s no practical difference between 77 wins and 78 wins, but they’re acting like they’re moving from 92 to 93 wins (which is surely very valuable). This news really soured a great Opening Day.
* Yes, if Britton gets sent back down and spends a month in the minors they can still get that year. I have a hard time expecting them to do that though, especially since I think Britton is at least as good as Chris Tillman right now, for example. If he comes up and out-pitches Tillman or whoever, it’ll be hard to justify sending him down. Harder than it is to justify keeping him down now (Britton had a good Spring, but he also only has 66 innings in Triple-A).
For some reason, the image I get when looking at this line-up is of Manny Ramirez destroying a curveball and slowly ambling out of the batter’s box. Having the righty Shoppach in there at catcher over the lefty Jaso seems a bit odd, but it might have something to do with Chris Tillman’s best pitches being his curve and change. But Joyce and Johnson are still playing. Not sure.
James Shields (2010):
Shields’ ERA was ugly, but his peripherals were excellent. Guess that’s what happens with a .341 BABIP and a 13.8% HR/FB rate.
I don’t completely trust the pitch classifications here, but I’m going with them anyway. In any case, Shields has quite an assortment of pitches, with the change-up being his signature offering. If Shields is hitting his spots then he’s going to be tough for the O’s to handle.
Jones and Scott flip-flop against the right-handed twirler.
Chris Tillman (2010):
I’m not quite all the way to no longer thinking Tillman can be a major league pitcher, but my confidence in him has tumbled severely in the last year and a half.
Tillman is more or less a three pitch pitcher, with a high riding (but relatively straight) 90 mph fastball, a big overhand curve, and a surprisingly effective change-up. His lack of control makes the off-speed stuff not play as well, considering his repertoire resembles that of a veteran more than a young flame-thrower.
Stats: UZR, WAR, ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9 & BB/9, GB%, HR/FB%, BABIP, PitchFX