Chris Tillman toes the rubber for Baltimore in tonight’s American league wild-card game at Rogers Centre. The right-hander is 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.28 WHIP this season, including going 8-3 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.12 WHIP on the road. Tillman has outperformed his peripherals, which include a 4.23 FIP, 4.54 xFIP and a 4.61 SIERA. He also owns a pedestrian 10.4% K-BB% and has struggled with his control (3.45 BB/9).
I should also note that Tillman has outperformed his peripherals on the road where he owns a 4.20 FIP and 4.73 xFIP. Of greater concern for Baltimore backers is the fact that Tillman’s peripherals gradually got worse in the second half of the regular season where he posted a 4.20 FIP and a 4.88 xFIP, together with a 16.7% K% (6.44 K/9) and a 9.2% BB% (3.53 BB/9).
The 28-year-old is 5-10 with a career 5.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP versus the Blue Jays, including going 2-6 with a 7.01 ERA in thirteen starts in Toronto. However, Tillman was 1-0 with a respectable 3.63 ERA in four starts against Toronto this season, including posting a 2.38 ERA in two outings at Rogers Centre.
Tillman is backed by a Baltimore bullpen that owns a 3.41 ERA and 1.28 WHIP this season, including a 3.25 ERA and 1.25 WHIP versus division foes, 3.29 WHIP and 1.228 WHIP at night and a 4.08 ERA and 1.40 WHIP on the road.
Toronto sends Marcus Stroman to the mound, who is 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 2016. Unlike his counterpart, Stroman has actually underperformed his peripherals, which include a 3.71 FIP, 3.41 xFIP and a 3.62 SIERA.
The right-hander also garnered a 3.49 FIP and a 3.01 xFIP in the second half of the regular season, together with better strikeout (8.49 K/9) and walk (2.15 BB/9) numbers. Stroman’s posted a 17.0 K-BB% in the second half compared to a 10.2% K-BB% in the first half so he has gotten stronger in the latter stages of the 2016 campaign.
The 25-year-old has really struggled against the Orioles as evidenced by his career 5.84 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in six starts, including yielding a combined 15 earned runs on 27 hits in sixteen innings this season (3 starts; 7.04 ERA).
Toronto relievers enter tonight’s game with a subpar 4.13 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, including a 4.37 ERA and 1.26 WHIP at home, a 4.66 ERA and 1.31 WHIP versus division foes and a 6.88 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in their last seven games.
Technically speaking, Baltimore is 23-8 in Tillman’s last 31 starts, including 14-3 in Tillman’s last 17 starts versus division opponents, 11-2 in his last 13 starts versus teams with a winning record and 7-1 in his last eight road starts (8-0 L/8 on road vs. .501 or greater opposition). In contrast, the Blue Jays are 1-7 in Stroman’s last 8 starts versus division opponents and 1-5 in his last six starts overall.
Finally, Baltimore is 4-0 in Tillman’s last four starts against Toronto, although the Orioles are just 25-56 in their last 81 trips to Toronto. The winner of tonight’s game goes on to play the Texas Rangers in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Thursday. I lean with the OVER 8.5 runs in this game and will make it my Free MLB Pick for Tuesday.
Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Pick: Baltimore/Toronto OVER 8.5 runs