The Orioles are a team on the upswing, rattling off an eight-game winning streak — and counting — to pull within a game of .500 as the All-Star break approaches.
For the fifth straight season, though, they’ll have only one representative in the All-Star Game.
Closer Jorge López was selected this afternoon as a reserve for the American League All-Star team, a well-earned reward for the right-hander’s breakout 2022 season. In his first year as a full-time reliever, López has posted a 1.74 ERA, a 0.968 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 while converting 16 of 20 save attempts. He’ll join the Yankees’ Clay Holmes, the Guardians’ Emmanuel Clase, and the Tigers’ Gregory Soto as the relievers on the AL All-Star squad. This year’s game will be at Dodger Stadium at 8 PM on Tuesday, July 19.
The 29-year-old López, after more than five years of bouncing between starting and long relief with mostly ineffective results, began this season in the bullpen and immediately locked into the ninth-inning role. In the first three months of the season, López was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, surrendering only three earned runs in 37 innings (0.73 ERA) and holding batters to a .389 OPS with no home runs. The right-hander was particularly unhittable in June, when he pitched 11 games without allowing an earned run, racked up 17 strikeouts, and was a perfect seven for seven in save chances.
López stumbled at the start of July, blowing saves on back-to-back nights in Minnesota and coughing up a homer in each of his first three games of the month. Still, he’s bounced back for three consecutive saves since then. He’s been the anchor of a surprisingly good Orioles bullpen — and a feel-good story as well, as López recently got to pitch in front of his son, Mikael, who has spent much of his life in hospitals with chronic autoimmune diseases. In May, López converted a save after the team celebrated Mikael’s ninth birthday.
No other Orioles were able to crack the AL All-Star roster. Outfielder Austin Hays appeared to be a candidate through late June, when he carried a .287/.345/.489 batting line with 11 homers and 45 RBIs, but he’s been mired in a 3-for-38 slump since June 28. Ryan Mountcastle and Trey Mancini, the Orioles’ best hitters by OPS+, and Cedric Mullins, the Birds’ WAR leader, also failed to make the cut. The Orioles haven’t had more than one representative in the All-Star Game since 2016, which — probably not coincidentally — was their last winning season.
There is one player from the Orioles’ organization besides López who will be heading to Los Angeles for All-Star weekend. Infielder Gunnar Henderson (the Birds’ #2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and #5 in MLB) will represent the club in the Futures Game on Saturday. Henderson has exploded as a prospect this season, batting .292/.425/.535 with 13 homers, 52 RBIs, 15 steals, and 59 walks to 71 strikeouts across two levels.