Confronted with a barren rotation and the season quick approaching, the Orioles have been fairly lively within the lead-up to spring coaching, including a pair of former aces in Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey to the pitching competitors. With each pitchers previous their prime, Drew Bonifant lately defined why expectations should be tempered for both.
However there’s one other pair of Orioles pitchers on the roster with an opportunity to contribute in both the bullpen, rotation, or each. These guys spent a portion of final season pitching for the O’s and each additionally occur to be out of minor league choices, in response to Spotrac. Alex Church touched on one in every of these gamers final week in an article about Orioles who are facing a make or break year.
Each of the pitchers to which I’m referring should carry out nicely this spring as a way to make the crew. In any other case, they’ll face waivers earlier than having the potential to remain within the O’s system.
The 2 guys I’m speaking about are Jorge Lopez and Cesar Valdez.
At 28 years outdated, Lopez is nicely previous the age of prospect consideration. Presently together with his third group, Lopez was a second-round choose of the Brewers in 2011 and was the second-highest rated prospect of their system in 2016, in response to Baseball America.
Lopez joined the O’s final 12 months on August ninth after being claimed off of waivers from the Royals. In 47 profession video games (25 begins) with Kansas Metropolis over the course of three years, Lopez managed solely a 6.42 ERA, 5.34 FIP and 1.48 WHIP.
His first run with the Orioles wasn’t any higher. By the tip of the 2020 season, Lopez had underwhelming numbers that included a 6.34 ERA and 5.28 FIP over the course of 38.1 complete innings. He averaged 1.6 HR/9 final 12 months too, which was proper consistent with his five-year profession common.
Whereas searching for some semblance of hope in Lopez’s 2020 splits, it was tough to search out any. His ERA was over six within the months of August and September. He was nearly equally unhealthy as a starter and reliever, with a 6.14 ERA in six begins and an 8.38 ERA in 4 reduction appearances. For what it’s value, he did carry out a lot better at house than on the highway, with ERAs of three.81 and 12.46, respectively.
Whereas Lopez cut up his time final season between the bullpen and the rotation, soon-to-be 36-year-old Cesar Valdez spent the whole thing of 2020 as a reliever.
He didn’t even make the Birds’ opening day roster. As an alternative, Valdez was assigned to the Alternate Coaching Website at Bowie a few week earlier than the July twenty fourth opener. Somewhat greater than a month later, on August twenty seventh, the membership chosen his contract and he completed the season with Baltimore.
Initially a world signee, Valdez’s earlier main league expertise included 20 innings (7.65 ERA) with the Diamondbacks in 2010 and 30.2 innings (7.63 ERA) with the Athletics and Blue Jays in 2017.
Two years faraway from his final main league look, Valdez was a nice shock for the O’s in 2020. He had a 1.26 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 0.69 WHIP over 14.1 reduction innings. Opponents batted solely .143 in opposition to Valdez and he posted a robust 4.00 SO/W. And he did all that with a fastball that averaged 85 mph.
Jon Meoli had an awesome piece lately that detailed the success Valdez had as a starting pitcher in the Dominican Winter League. That efficiency included two begins within the Caribbean World Sequence the place he allowed just one run over 11 complete innings.
Although Valdez is in his mid-30s, in some way he gained’t be arbitration eligible till 2023, and the earliest he can develop into a free agent is 2026. Lopez, who is sort of a decade Valdez’s junior, reaches arbitration eligibility in 2022 and free company in 2025.
Can each of those pitchers stick within the rotation and/or bullpen whereas consuming a spot that might simply as quickly go to one of many youthful guys on the 40-man roster? We’ve obtained all spring to search out out.
However it would possibly take even longer than that.
The upcoming season would require loads of creativity from supervisor Brandon Hyde when it comes to pitching employees utilization. With the necessity to keep away from overworking the arms, we may see something from a six-man rotation, to openers, or bullpen days, or perhaps one thing much more insane.
No matter occurs, relaxation assured that the Orioles rotation on the finish of the season will probably be vastly completely different than the model in the beginning of the season. In fact.