Let me just cut to the chase, George Kirby had an outstanding rookie year. He pairs a nasty fastball with a slider and a two-seamer combo that is to die for. He also adds a curveball and changeup to his arsenal. Out of 100+ pitchers that threw 500 or more fastballs, George Kirby’s fastball had the third-lowest RV/100 behind only Nestor Cortés and our friend Luis Castillo. That is filthy, to say the least. That does not mean he is the God of throwing heat. It just means teams did not score runs against his fastball. It was efficient and very hard to hit. In the second half of the season, teams were batting below .200 and below a .300 SLG against the heater. What made it stand out was the placement. He was consistent with it and could put it anywhere he wanted.
After the All-Star Break, Kirby was untouchable. He had the second-most fWAR behind Verlander and looked super comfortable on the bump. The slider came along for George as he added 2-3 MPH onto it throughout the year. Kirby stated he would like to see his slider at 90 MPH soon. It is incredibly difficult not to write a book on this kid. For a guy who had over 100 more strikeouts compared to walks, he is getting even better. He pitched his best ball in the playoffs when he put together eight scoreless innings. Kirby is working on a new changeup this year, something with a little more bite. He works like a beast and rests like a veteran. After pitching a higher number of innings in 2022, he feels his velocity kept up, and so did his body. George Kirby is remarkable and only getting better.
In conclusion, we all saw glimpses of elite talent from George in 2022. The expectations are higher as he has a full offseason to work on his first full MLB season. Changes are being made to his off-speed arsenal. He looks more comfortable with his curveball and changeup. Kirby will be an absolute menace when he is able to set up his full arsenal. It takes time, but he is a highly motivated guy who is putting in the work. I see absolutely no reason he cannot be an ace in Seattle. He could be a top-5 guy in the league… a Cy Young candidate. We do not know yet, but if he has improved any from last season, chances are George Kirby is going to tear through your lineup in 2023.