BALTIMORE — The 2022 Baltimore Orioles were one of the most surprising teams in Major League Baseball. At the beginning of last season, most baseball experts were predicting the American League East to be a tight race between the top four teams, the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Boston Red Sox with the Baltimore Orioles residing in the basement.
But the Orioles shocked the world when they not only finished in fourth in the American League, and ahead of the disappointing Boston Red Sox. They were actually in contention for one of the three wild card spots. Sure, it was a long shot but they were still there, hanging around in September when everyone counted the team out as early as March.
They improved their record from a disappointing 52-110 in 2021 to an impressive 83-79 record in 2022 and are looking to do even better in 2023.
The first step for a successful 2023 is to set the starting rotation and the Orioles have a number of pitchers to choose from. Connor Newcomb, the host of the Locked On Orioles podcast had Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun on the latest episode of his show and they discussed the guys vying for spots in the rotation, what the possible order could be, and who could be the Opening Day starter in when they start the season in Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
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Both Newcomb and Ruiz believe the rotation will be Kyle Gibson, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Cole Irvin, and rookie Grayson Rodriguez.
They also believe that Gibson will be the one to make the Opening Day start in Fenway Park on March 30, though Newcomb mentioned how Gibson had a rough go during his only other opening day in 2021 when he played Texas—Gibson only lasted one-third of an inning and gave up five runs on four hits against the Kansas City Royals.
Newcomb also joked about Gibson being the highest-paid free agent of the Mike Elias era which should guarantee him being the Opening Day starter.
Gibson signed a one-year/$10M deal to be with the Orioles and is pretty much guaranteed a rotation spot as long as he’s healthy—that seems to be the case for nearly every pitcher in this article.
Gibson, who spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins, is the veteran of the group and that’s a big reason why the Orioles signed him. In 2022, he was 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA with the Phillies. He had the best season of his career in 2021 when he made the All-Star team.
Dean Kremer who is entering his fourth season as an Oriole made a career-high 21 starts in 2022 and threw 125 and one-third innings. He owned an 8-7 record and compiled a 3.23 ERA. He is also guaranteed a spot (barring any health concerns) in the rotation thanks to his performance in 2022 and his performance this spring.
Cole Irvin, who came over to the Orioles from the A’s, had a 3.98 in 30 starts in 2022. He’s 28 years old and he came into camp with the mentality of ‘fighting got a spot in the rotation’ even though he’s not. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of where which is the case for all of these pitchers as teams get closer to Opening Day.
He’s another veteran the Orioles signed to help bolster their rotation and it’s possible he could be slotted into the fourth spot.
Kyle Bradish is entering his second full season with the Orioles in 2023. He had an interesting 2022. His win-loss record was 4-7, and his ERA was a slightly bloated 4.90 but he struck out 111 batters and walked 46 which isn’t an earth-shattering ratio but it works out to a nearly 9K per nine. Look for him to be somewhere in the middle of the O’s rotation.
And finally, there’s the rookie Grayson Rodriguez. Rodriguez will most likely be slotted into the fifth spot in the rotation with the expectation that he will become the number one someday.
He will be making his Major League debut this season and he is a bright spot for Orioles fans who have been waiting for the team to make it back to the playoffs after a nearly seven-year drought.
Some baseball pundits are saying this is the best the Orioles rotation has looked in a while and barring any health concerns, it could be enough to make them stay out of the American League basement for a second year in a row, and even better, it could make them possibly sneak into a wild card series in October.
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