More often than not in baseball, good pitching beats good hitting. That’s why it’s so important for teams to develop quality pitching to supplement their major league roster, and that’s why pitchers were a point of emphasis for the Orioles with their flurry of trades leading up the non-waiver deadline.
And pitching is definitely a department the Orioles could use some help in. Out of all 30 MLB teams this year, the Orioles have the fourth worst team ERA, at 4.83. Their rotation has a 5.22 ERA and their bullpen has a 4.26 ERA. Ironically enough, the Orioles also had the fourth worst team ERA last year, at 4.97, including a 5.70 rotation ERA and 3.93 bullpen ERA.
Of the fifteen players acquired in the four major trades recently, eight of them are pitchers. That includes five starters and three relievers.
From the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers, the Orioles’ haul included right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop. From the Brewers, they got RHP Luis Ortiz, among others, for Jonathan Schoop. Among the players received from the Braves for Kevin Gausman, Baltimore received LHP Bruce Zimmermann and RHP Evan Phillips. From the Yankees for Zach Britton, the team got right-handers Dillon Tate and Cody Carroll and left-hander Josh Rogers.
With the three relievers acquired in the aforementioned trades, the Orioles are stockpiling power arms for the backend of their bullpen with the ability to miss bats and minimize damage via the long ball. According to CBSSports’ R.J. Anderson, Pop features “a big sinking fastball up to 97 and a really hard slider.” In 53.1 innings over the course of two minor league seasons, Pop is averaging an impressive 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Evan Phillips is an advanced arm who has thrown 40.2 innings in Triple-A this year with 8 saves. He has 23 saves in 31 chances over the course of his minor league career. In four minor league seasons, he’s averaging 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Our friends over at Talking Chop have a good scouting report on Phillips, calling him “the most dominant reliever in the Braves system” and mentioning a “fastball sitting around 94-95, [that] he can get up into the 97-98 range while still keeping a strong downward plane on the ball and lively arm side movement.”
Cody Carroll is the first pitcher of the bunch to be promoted to the big league club. The Orioles called him up from the Norfolk Tides on July 31 and he made his major league debut yesterday against his former team, the New York Yankees. He pitched one scoreless inning, throwing 22 pitches (12 strikes) and allowing one hit. His fastball topped out at 97 mph, which lines up with his MLB Pipeline scouting report that mentions the following:
“After working in the low 90s as a college starter, Carroll now deals at 96-98 mph and touches 101 with his fastball. Hitters can’t sit on his heater because he also can make them look bad with a mid-80s breaking ball that combines slider velocity and curveball depth. He also mixes in a mid-80s splitter against left-handers on occasion.”
Over the course of four minor league seasons, Carroll has averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. And like the other two relievers previously mentioned, he has shown the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, averaging only 0.3 home runs allowed per nine innings. In Phillips’ minor league career, he has allowed only 0.5 home runs per nine innings and Pop has only allowed 0.2.
Not a bad group of relievers to look forward to seeing in Baltimore for years to come. Plus, the O’s needed guys at least close to major league ready in order to restock the bullpen after losing Zach Britton, Brad Brach and the injured Darren O’Day.
Of the starting pitchers received in the recent trades, two of the five are left-handers, which is an area in which the Orioles are sorely lacking. Bruce Zimmermann and Josh Rogers have the chance to add some variety in the future to a rotation that currently leans heavily to the right.
In his first start with Norfolk, Rogers threw seven scoreless innings. When speaking of the 6’ 3” southpaw, Dan Duquette said being left-handed “gives him a good opportunity to join our rotation on that basis...He’s really strong against left-handed hitters, and we don’t have a lot of candidates for left-handed starting pitching.”
New addition right-handers Dillon Tate, Luis Ortiz and Dean Kremer have some upside and instantly take prominent spots in the Orioles prospect rankings. According to MLB Pipeline’s top 30 list for Baltimore, Tate already ranks 6th best among prospects, Ortiz is right behind him at 7th and Kremer comes in at 16th overall.
In his lone start so far with the Baysox, Tate went 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs with one walk and four strikeouts. Also playing for the Baysox, Kremer has pitched to a 3.27 ERA over two starts (11 innings) with 11 strikeouts versus five walks. Luis Ortiz has yet to pitch for an Orioles affiliate.