Grayson Rodriguez is going to be very important in determining how far these Orioles go in 2023. That has felt true for this team since the spring, when it became clear that Kyle Gibson was the only rotation addition they would be making. That was reinforced on Tuesday, when Jack Flaherty was the lone deadline deal the team made.
Rodriguez is not the ace of the staff, whatever that means. Gibson is the grizzled vet that took the ball on Opening Day. Kyle Bradish has been their best pitcher. John Means is the familiar face that will be back in September. But it’s Rodriguez that possesses the most talent, and he is the one that has been dubbed ace-in-waiting for a few years now.
The Orioles have acquired pieces that seem perfectly positioned to guide him through this rookie season. Old heads to show him the way, and a few young dudes to build camaraderie and competition. Rodriguez was poor in his initial big league stint (7.35 ERA over 10 starts). But he has been quite good since his recall last month.
In July, Rodriguez threw 17 big league innings, struck out 14, issued six walks, and did not serve up any home runs. That was good for a 3.16 ERA and 2.68 FIP. Opponents hit .220 with a .564 OPS in that time. Put simply, things are coming together for the 23-year-old.
It will be interesting to see how the Orioles manage Rodriguez for the remainder of the season. He’s already thrown 103.2 innings this season, a significant jump from his injury shortened 2022 when he threw 75.2 innings, and just a touch more than the 103 innings he threw on the farm in 2021.
Mike Elias told the media just recently that workloads are a consideration but that there isn’t “any science” to support limiting innings to prevent injuries. Rodriguez has had no issues with velocity in recent starts and appears to be growing stronger, if anything. Still, if the Orioles weren’t willing to trade any big names at the deadline, they certainly aren’t going to tempt fate either. They may have to back off of Rodriguez at some point if they also want him to be a weapon in October.
Orioles Starting Lineup
- Adley Rutschman, DH
- Ryan Mountcastle, 1B
- Anthony Santander, RF
- Austin Hays, LF
- Gunnar Henderson, 3B
- Jordan Westburg, 2B
- James McCann, C
- Ryan McKenna, CF
- Jorge Mateo, SS
Grayson Rodriguez, RHP (2-2, 6.21 ERA)
The day after scoring 13 runs with a righty-heavy lineup, the Orioles lineup looks very similar. McCann takes Ramón Urías spot in the lineup to do the catching. The DH role goes from Henderson to Rutschman, and Henderson takes over the hot corner.
We will likely get our first glimpse of Jack Flaherty in an Orioles uniform as well. He’s been activated following the trade and seems poised to start either tomorrow in Toronto or Friday at Camden Yards. In a somewhat surprising move, Bryan Baker was optioned to make room on the active roster. Joey Krehbiel lives on!
Blue Jays Starting Lineup
- Whit Merrifield, 2B
- Brandon Belt, 1B
- Vlad Guerrero Jr., DH
- George Springer, RF
- Matt Chapman, 3B
- Danny Jansen, C
- Daulton Varsho, LF
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Yusei Kikuchi, LHP (8-3, 3.79 ERA)