Results tagged ‘ Carlos Zambrano ’
Because I have scored Norfolk Tides games professionally for five years, I’ve been rooting for ex-Tides to do well with the Baltimore Orioles for the past few seasons. Among the better Tides prospects to have been promoted to the Orioles is Chris Tillman, but unfortunately Tillman disappointed in 2009 and 2010. At the start of the 2011 season, Tillman was relegated to the #6 starter role, to be sent back to Norfolk as soon as Zach Britton could be added to the big-league team without starting his arbitration and free-agency clocks.
Tillman caught one break when Brad Bergesen, the Orioles’ projected #4 starter, got hit with a line drive. As a result, he was scheduled to start the Orioles’ third game of the season on Sunday, April 3. He caught another break when Saturday’s scheduled starter, Brian Matusz, hurt himself and was put on the Disabled List. Tillman was moved up to Saturday.
And he rose to the occasion – six no-hit innings against Tampa Bay. Now, Tillman didn’t blow the Rays away, and he left the game after six innings and 101 pitches. But he wasn’t “laboring” either; he pitched effectively and was never in serious trouble. Buck Showalter did the right thing by removing him; I think it’s a good idea to take him out on a high note, rather than possibly having him struggle in the seventh and leave on a downer.
Sometimes, all it takes for a struggling pitcher to turn it around is confidence. Confidence in his ability to really get major-league hitters out. I remember Darryl Kile getting his career started with six no-hit innings in a spot start, and Tommy Greene, on the verge of getting released, pitching four shutout innings in a sixteen-inning 1-0 game. As Bill James wrote, that got him a start, in which he pitched a no-hitter, which put him in the starting rotation.
This game may be a turning point in the career of Chris Tillman. I’m rooting for him, and I hope it is. One more anecdote:
The 2001 Chicago Cubs contended for the postseason, finishing with an 88-74 record, five games behind the Cardinals and Astros. They had a healthy five-man rotation of Jon Lieber, Jason Bere, Kerry Wood, Kevin Tapani, and Julian Tavarez, who combined to make 151 starts. Twenty-year-old Carlos Zambrano made a cameo appearance, with a 15.26 ERA in 6 games.
In 2002, the rotation collapsed with injuries and ineffectiveness. Jon Lieber, who had made 34 starts in 2001, made only 21 in 2002. Jason Bere, who made 32 starts with a 4.31 ERA in 2001, made 16 with a 5.67 ERA in 2002. Kevin Tapani, who made 29 starts in 2001, was not resigned. Carlos Zambrano was on the team, but was pitching mop-up relief. Until he made back-to-back starts against the Atlanta Braves, giving up 2 earned runs in 12 combined innings. That got him a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season, and he’s won 114 other games since.