Kyle Bradish threw only 28 pitches this season before making a trip to the injured list. The 26-year-old struck out two and allowed a hit before taking a 104-mph comebacker off his right foot against the Rangers. Bradish attempted one warmup pitch, grimaced, and bolted for the dugout.
X-rays were negative, but Bradish suffered a bad bruise. His prognosis shifted from day-to-day to an IL stint when he proved unable to push off the mound with the usual amount of force.
Tyler Wells immediately distracted from the injury by volunteering to work in relief. Wells entered and tossed five no-hit innings in an eventual 2-0 Orioles victory. Wells returned to the rotation for his next start, but another player entered the picture and diverted the attention away from Bradish’s injury.
The Orioles elected to leave Grayson Rodriguez in Triple-A to start the season. Mike Elias made fair but relatively harsh comments defending the move, and Rodriguez headed to Norfolk. Baltimore’s prize pitching prospect struggled in spring training and his first appearance with the Tides, but the injury to Bradish created an opening at the big league level.
Rodriguez has struggled early in all three outings but has done enough to warrant an extended look in Baltimore. Cole Irvin floundered enough to receive an option to Triple-A, which created an opening for Bradish to return to the rotation later this evening. With Irvin serving as an early season disappointment, let’s fire up the hype train for Bradish.
Bradish joined the Orioles at the end of April last season and immediately delivered a quality start against the Red Sox. He flashed some early potential (7 IP, 2 ER, 11 K against the Cardinals in May), but failed to complete five innings over a five game stretch in June. Baltimore placed Bradish on the 15-day IL for right shoulder inflammation. The righty looked like a brand new pitcher when he returned at the end of July.
Bradish limited opponents to three runs or fewer in 12 of his final 13 starts. Opponents hit just .212 with a .312 slugging percentage. He struck out 65, walked 28, and allowed only six more homers after surrendering 11 in his first 10 games of the season.
Bradish dominated the Astros twice (16.2 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 16 K), and mixed in a pair of seven inning gems against Boston and Cleveland. He shined with a five-pitch mix and experienced plenty of success with his offspeed arsenal.
Bradish, Kremer and Wells all entered 2023 hoping to build on successful stints last season. Wells has looked the part so far, but Kremer struggled before dominating the Nationals last night.
Kremer’s early struggles and Irvin’s woes have left Baltimore searching for answers on the mound. Irvin came to Baltimore with a reputation of working deep into games but failed to complete five innings in each outing. The Orioles bullpen ranked in the top five of innings pitched prior to last night’s game against Washington. Could Bradish provide more length for the Orioles?
He completed five innings and threw 82 pitches during a rehab performance at Bowie last week. A bruised foot is not the type of injury that would ignite any type of work limits during the season. It may take a start or two to shake off some rust, but Bradish should be a full go from the jump.
Bradish completed seven innings or more five times last season. Unfortunately, he walked two or more batters in nine of his final 13 starts. His pitch count often approached triple digits, but the performances did not always translate to an easy night for the bullpen.
Reducing the walks and consistently completing six innings feels like the next step for Bradish. Working deeper into games should provide plenty of coverage to the 26-year-old if/when Irvin improves at Triple-A, DL Hall forces his way to Baltimore, and John Means makes his eventual return in the second half.
The Birds still have reinforcements coming with Hall and Means, but there is no question the Orioles need Bradish to help right the ship. Baltimore starters ranked 29th in IP (76), 28th in ERA (6.75) and 26th in xFIP (4.80) entering the two game series against the Nationals.
Bradish is expected to rely on all five pitches this year. Opponents hit .212 off his slider, .233 against the curveball and .211 when facing the changeup. His fastball velocity ranks in the top third of the league, but he threw the pitch less with greater success in the latter half of last season.
ZiPS projected a surprisingly high ERA of 4.69 for Bradish this season, but 92 percent of you voted that he would outperform the projection. Even that number would help the Orioles right now, but Bradish has the potential and the pitches to provide this team a boost with his return.