Keys To The Orioles 2023 Season

The Bullpen

The Orioles’ bullpen in 2022 was the strength of this ball club and was the biggest reason for the Orioles cruising to a shocking 83-79 record. Many think that the Orioles’ 2022 success was premature because that bullpen production might be unsustainable heading into the 2023 season. The bullpen maintained a 3.49 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, placing them 9th and 13th in the MLB, respectively. A considerable part of that success was 6-foot-5 closer Felix Bautista, who emerged as the lockdown guy in the back of this bullpen. Bautista ended the season with an impressive 2.19 ERA while striking out 88 batters in just 65.2 innings. Bautista will be a key factor in determining how this season goes for Baltimore. The Orioles return the core of this bullpen, which consists of Dillon Tate, Cionel Perez, Keegan Akin, and Bryan Baker. Those four were key pieces for the Orioles last season and will continue to be extremely important for the team this season. Baltimore will have plenty of options to hold down the early innings for this bullpen, such as Logan Gillespie, Mychal Givens, DL Hall, and whoever doesn’t crack the rotation. The Orioles are banking on more success out of the bullpen in 2023 to be a contender again.

The Young Stars

The future of this team is so bright, thanks to a core of three young superstars in the making. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and Grayson Rodriguez. While there are many other good players on this team, these three have the most eyes on them to elevate the Orioles to the next level. The Orioles were patient with former number one overall pick Adley Rutschman as they waited until the 2022 season to give him the call to the majors finally, but the moment he stepped inside Camden Yards, this team was different. The former number-one overall prospect in baseball, immediately made a huge impact for the Orioles as they went 67-59 post-call-up and provided the team with a much-needed spark. Rutschman accumulated a whopping 5.3 fWAR in 2022 while playing in just 113 games. The second young star for the Orioles is 21-year-old infield prospect Gunnar Henderson. Henderson had an extremely impressive 126 wRC+ and .788 OPS in his 34-game stint in the big leagues last season. Not to mention, Henderson absolutely lit up the minor leagues in 2022 before being called up to the majors. Last but certainly not least is the 6-foot-5 flame-throwing pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, who is set to make his major league debut in 2023. Rodriguez dealt with an injury last season which delayed his progression, but he has everything you can ask for in a pitching prospect. If these three young phenoms can live up to their potential this season, the Orioles could be a force to be reckoned with in the American League.

The Pitching Acquisitions

The Orioles have a very unproven starting pitching rotation heading into 2023, with names such as Dean Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez headlining. Aside from the homegrown pitchers set to be responsible for a hefty load of innings this season, the Orioles acquired two starting pitchers via trade and free agency. The Orioles signed Kyle Gibson to a one-year deal and traded for Cole Irvin from the Athletics in exchange for infield prospect Darell Hernaiz. The Orioles are hoping for a bounce-back season for veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson. Gibson pitched to a 5.05 ERA last season for the Phillies, but advanced numbers are projecting positive regression for Gibson in 2023. Secondly, The Orioles are hoping for quality innings from the 29-year-old left-hander Cole Irvin this season. Irvin had a 3.98 ERA and 4.21 FIP last season in Oakland, the Orioles are looking to get similar production from him this season. If Gibson and Irvin can just be solid starters in Baltimore, then I believe this rotation can be strong enough for the Orioles to make a playoff push. The strengths of this team are most likely going to be the bullpen and the offense this season, so the Orioles just need ”enough” out of the rotation in 2023.

Matt Rhodes

Beat Writer For ITD

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