The Orioles’ starting battery in Sunday’s game, lefty Wade LeBlanc and catcher Pedro Severino, were both forced to exit this afternoon’s game prematurely after each suffered an injury. LeBlanc exited in the first inning of Baltimore’s matchup with the Red Sox due to left elbow discomfort, while Severino left in the seventh after experiencing tightness in his right hip while running out a single. Per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun, LeBlanc will undergo an MRI tomorrow, with Severino also due for further evaluation.
Severino has been one of the most productive bats on the Baltimore roster thus far, slugging five homers to go with a solid .329/.398/.570 slash line. Even so, his hard-hit rates and exit velocity numbers don’t lend themselves to that type of success. Surely, a .967 OPS is unreasonable to expect the rest of the way, but even something more in line with his 2019 .740 OPS is nothing to scoff at, especially by catcher standards.
On the other hand, it’s been a slow start for the veteran LeBlanc, who entered today with a 7.89 ERA through his first five starts with his new club. He’s tallied just 13 strikeouts in 21 2/3, though to his credit he has done well to induce soft contact, according to Statcast metrics.
The last several years of LeBlanc’s career have been relatively injury-free, and he hasn’t had any arm troubles in recent memories. In the first handful of starts in his age-36 season, there hadn’t been any significant decrease to his velocity compared to prior seasons. Still, it’s been widely speculated that the abbreviated buildup to this unusual season is to blame for the bevy of pitcher injuries that has swept across baseball, victimizing stars like Justin Verlander, Kirby Yates, and Stephen Strasburg, among many others.
We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get an idea of the severity of the Orioles’ latest injuries, but we hope that LeBlanc has avoided a fate comparable to that of the aforementioned trio of pitchers. And with Severino emerging as a hot bat in the Baltimore batting order, they’ll cross their fingers that a hip injury won’t prevent him from playing for too long. In the meantime, Chance Sisco will likely assume most of the catching duties, while young prospects like Keegan Akin or Dean Kremer are available to assume LeBlanc’s spot in the rotation.