Evaluating Orioles' starting pitchers

May 24th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NEW YORK -- When Orioles general manager Mike Elias most recently met with the media on May 9, he said he thought the team’s starting pitching seemed to be “stabilizing and improving.”

Two weeks later, that’s even more the case.

Baltimore has rotated through the same five starting pitchers since April 19, with the handful of right-handers accounting for 45 starts through the team’s first 48 games. (The other three were started by lefty Cole Irvin, who made the O’s Opening Day staff before getting optioned to Triple-A Norfolk).

The Orioles’ rotation started slowly, which is why it still ranks 21st in MLB with a 4.81 ERA. But the group has fared much better lately, with the starters combining for a 3.59 ERA in the past 13 games.

Let’s highlight each of these five pitchers with a key stat, along with some analysis from pitching coach/director of pitching Chris Holt, who shared his thoughts on the club’s starters about two months into the season.

Kyle Gibson

Key stat: Six starts of six-plus innings and only one of fewer than five through 10 outings

Holt’s take: “He’s a great teammate. He’s a knowledgeable baseball guy who also always has his eyes on things, both with the game and from a pitching perspective. And so, he’s been a tremendous addition to our team, our staff, just everything. I can’t say enough good things about him. And always available if anybody wants or needs to talk to him. A lot of fun to be around, too.”

Dean Kremer

Key stat: A 6.67 ERA in six April starts, then a 1.96 ERA in his first four May outings

Holt’s take: “I think he’s certainly cut down in minimizing wasted pitches and minimizing deeper counts. He’s been executing his fastball locations quite well, executing with his offspeed much better. His cutter has returned to form. So I think all those things, combined with his willingness to attack every batter he faces, has gotten him on a nice rhythm and some more efficient outings and performing very well.”

Kyle Bradish

Key stat: Five of seven starts with three or fewer runs allowed since his April 19 return

Holt’s take: “His delivery’s been much more consistent. His routine between outings has always been quite good, and now, the substance in his routine has gotten sharpened with focus, and it’s helped, I think, with his delivery and his consistency with executing his best stuff. Because his stuff is amazing. It’s really, again, for him, a matter of eliminating extra, or wasted, pitches. And he’s attacked like no other. I mean, he’s been really, really good. The slider’s been excellent. He’s got a great mix. He’s incorporated the changeup a bit more in these outings as well. So all that put together, he’s put his game together quite well and been executing at a higher percentage.”

Grayson Rodriguez

Key stat: Team-high 50 strikeouts, with an average of 10.7 per nine innings

Holt’s take: “He’s a competitor. Any time he takes the mound, we know he’s going to compete. And then, as we’ve seen with some of these younger guys that have now started to gain some consistency, for him to gain consistency from outing to outing is his next big step and eliminating the things that have kind of cost him -- deeper counts and extra pitches and those things. Again, his stuff is excellent and consistently attacking the zone and working ahead in counts are things that he will continue to improve as he goes. But right now, his changeup has been excellent. He’s been throwing curveballs much better this year than in the past. And then, still working to get consistency on the slider and the cutter location. Again, once he puts his game together, he’s really tough. He’s going to be tough.”

Tyler Wells

Key stat: An MLB-best 0.79 WHIP

Holt’s take: “He’s a solid competitor. He attacks lineups. He doesn’t care who he’s facing, he goes after guys. And again, for him, he’s continued to gain consistency with his best delivery and his best execution as well. With Tyler, he really does know how to pitch. But he’s also combined that with a consistency of his best stuff and his best locations of late. And so, again, he’s gained some momentum with that as well.”