Milwaukee Brewers: Is Chris Tillman a worthwhile reclamation project?

Matthew Dewoskin
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 03: Chris Tillman
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 03: Chris Tillman /
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Chris Tillman endured a nightmare 2017 that only ended when the season did. He was hurt. Then he was bad. And then his season got worse. Why would the Milwaukee Brewers have any interest in adding Tillman to their rotation for 2018?

Chis Tillman was a disaster in 2017. He threw 93 innings between the rotation and bullpen last year. Tillman posted a 7.84 ERA. He struck out 63, walked 51(!), and allowed 24(!!!) homers. His velocity was down, but it wasn’t appallingly bad. He’s averaged 91.3 MPH on his fastball for his career, but only 90.7 MPH last year.

Why would the Brewers have any interest in adding Tillman?

Great question. If ever there was a guy who needs a change of scenery, it’s Tyler Chatwood. If there’s a second guy in need of a change of scenery, it’s Tillman. He’s pitched in the AL East for his entire career, and not for the Yankees, Red Sox, or Blue Jays. Tillman has been stuck on a Baltimore Orioles team that’s not quite good enough to handle the power teams for his entire career.

Before his disaster season of 2017, Tillman posted a 3.81 ERA from 2012-2016 in a brutal division. He also made at least 30 starts in every season between 2013 and 2016. He takes the ball every fifth day and eats up innings. Also, he’s been in the Major Leagues since 2009, but he won’t turn 30 until after Opening Day. For a starting pitcher with 198 starts, Tillman is relatively young.

If Tillman’s shoulder is up to it, he’d make sense as a fifth starter for the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers. That’s why the Brew Crew should have interest in him.

What about his right shoulder?

Well, he received a platelet-rich plasma injection before Spring Training. During Spring Training, he needed a cortisone injection. Tillman rehabbed for a few weeks, and the Orioles believed he was healthy enough to start. It sounds like he needs an off season to rest and rehab properly, but he’s not scheduled to ‘Visit Dr. El Attrache’ at this point. After missing April, he didn’t need to return to the DL. This is an issue that the Milwaukee Brewers medical staff will have to determine before a contract is signed.

How much will Tillman cost the Brewers

This is the best part. Tillman is almost assured of signing a one-year deal for only a few million dollars. If he gets more than $6 million, Tillman needs to kiss his agent on the mouth at the press conference. The old saying goes that, “There’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.” Assuming that’s true, Tillman could work out as a low-cost/high-reward signing that would boost the Milwaukee Brewers rotation.

Next: How real is the Brewers' interest in Lance Lynn?

There’s a non-zero chance that Tillman hurts his shoulder again and misses time or his performance suffers. If the Milwaukee Brewers elect to bring Tillman aboard, they need to bring in a team of doctors to make sure his shoulder is completely sound, or it will make it through the 2018 season at least. Tillman has shown that he’s a capable starter. Recapturing his form will be easier in a league that doesn’t feature the DH, and in a division that lacks the Red Sox and Yankees.

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