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After a dazzling debut, Mike Wright is (hopefully) here to stay

Watching Mike Wright pitch in his first big league start brought back all the feels of recent Oriole magic, and THIS Orioles team needs more pixie dust.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into their recent weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Orioles had been colder than the bottom of an avalanche.

As a result, the team's stretch from May 5-13 replicated the downhill slide of one of the world's most feared phenomenas.

A quick two-game sweep in Flushing was followed by losing two of three in The Bronx, though the O's did regain some momentum, taking two of three from the Blue Jays. The Angels presented a solid early season challenge for a franchise that seemed to be moving in slow motion.

The first two games of the series proved that theory.

Having been outscored 9-2 in the first two games of the weekend series, the Orioles couldn't muster much of a fight against the defending AL West champions. The O's were tricked and tried by the crafty Jered Weaver, while Matt Shoemaker's outing reminded baseball why he was a high-rising Rookie of the Year candidate a year ago. The combination of flat offense and just-not-good-enough pitching set the Orioles up for a serious drop in morale.

Then, Mike Wright happened.

Baltimore's new 6'6, 215 lbs. ray of hope was called up for his first ML start, a result of Chris Tillman's recurring back spasms. As Wright stepped onto the rubber for the first time, that feeling of kid-like giddiness crept back into OPACY, an emotion that has been hard to come by so far in 2015. Wright delivered, and he did it in a fashion that ought to thrust him into the occasional Jim Palmer conversation piece.

Hurling 7.1 masterful innings, Wright managed to hold the Angels to only four hits, allowing zero runs and zero walks to go with six strikeouts. Speaking of Palmer, the first "wow" moment of his debut came in the 1st inning, as a 2-2, 98 MPH fastball whizzed by the game's best player, Mike Trout, for strike three. Palmer, laughing "Wooooow", summed up his start only two batters in, saying "That'll get your attention".

Palmer really does know his stuff.

Wright flashed why he was on the Orioles' radar, and why he will continue to be a talking point for the rest of the season. His four-seam fastball, ranging from 95-98 MPH, was controlled and seemed effortless to deliver. As I have talked about before with other Orioles' pitchers, the importance of avoiding the barrel of the bat is paramount, and Wright's two-seamer moved like a paper airplane away from the sweet spot of Angel bats. His slider had more depth and uniqueness than any of the Orioles' current starters, and even his changeup, though still a work in progress, was consistently 15-18 MPH slower than his fastball, a sign that he does indeed have the "plus-stuff".

Mike Wright Minor League Statistics 2013-15

Year ERA Innings WHIP K/9
2013 (Double-A) 3.26 143.2 1.33 8.52
2014 4.61 142.2 1.40 6.50
2015 2.64 30.2 1.11 8.80

Given Wright's last two-plus seasons, he's shown that he's been a very consistent heartbeat in the O's farm system. A deeper look into his 2014 numbers revealed May and June struggles, but a late-season surge forced the Orioles to add him to the 40-man roster. His emergence a year ago propelled him atop the Orioles' bucket list for 2015, and Wright, even after one start, has proven that he does indeed belong on this team.

About a month ago, I wrote about my man crush, Kevin Gausman, and how he could really provide a spark to a rotation that needed a push. Though, the Orioles' recent concerns haven't been geared towards the staff, but instead the offense, it's besides the point. The O's front office, at some point, will have to decide when to begin the exodus of young pitching talent from the farm system to the pros, especially with Gausman having somewhat made his mark, rumors of Dylan Bundy's eventual call-up and now Wright's major splash. Teams draft these guys in order to have them contributing at the big-league level. Maybe Wright's immediate impact is a sign of things to come.

Wright's role doesn't need to be exclusive to the starting rotation either. Norris will be back with "bronchitis", while Gausman's return is just around the corner. The odd-man out, per usual, is Jason Garcia, who is on the disabled list as well. The Orioles are going to have to decide whether his long-term potential outweighs his immediate return, and so far it's a toss-up. If Garcia is returned to the Astros, Wright's power arm makes sense in the back-end of the bullpen.

Wright, however, will have the chance to prove himself again, as he is slated to start against the Marlins, in Miami, this Saturday. A Marlins' lineup that features the speedy Dee Gordon, a rising star in Christian Yelich and the ever-dangerous Giancarlo Stanton, Wright's second start will be yet another adrenaline rush, but he's got the juice.

His simple delivery, high-heat and "wow" factor have really caught my attention, but I really hope his second start isn't just a tease. I don't want to see him go just quite yet.