Orioles general manager Mike Elias met with the media as pitchers and catchers report to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., and the GM provided a handful of less-than-ideal updates regarding his pitching staff. Most notably, righty Dillon Tate sustained a forearm/flexor strain in late November and is expected to miss at least the first month of the season (Twitter link via Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun). Tate will open the year on the 15-day injured list.
Meanwhile, closer Felix Bautista has spent the winter rehabbing from the left knee injury that ended his season and has also been on a strengthening program for his right shoulder (Twitter link via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). His spring debut will be delayed, so he’s not a lock to be ready by Opening Day. Top prospect DL Hall is also behind schedule after experiencing some lower lumber discomfort about three weeks ago (via Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Banner). Elias didn’t rule out the possibility that southpaw Nick Vespi, who underwent surgery to repair a hernia in early January, would be ready for Opening Day, but that’s not a given either.
Tate’s injury status is presently the largest blow to the club, as he quietly stepped up as a high-end setup piece for Bautista in 2022. The former No. 4 overall draft pick logged a career-high 73 2/3 innings while recording a tidy 3.05 ERA. Tate picked up 16 holds and five saves, offsetting a below-average 20.5% strikeout rate with excellent walk and ground-ball rates of 5.5% and 57.1%, respectively.
The Orioles and Tate agreed to a $1.5MM salary earlier in the offseason, avoiding an arbitration hearing in Tate’s first trip through the process. He’s under control through the 2025 campaign and had previously looked to be in the running for Baltimore’s top setup option to Bautista. At least in the season’s early stages, some of those high-leverage innings that would’ve gone to Tate will now instead fall to veteran Mychal Givens — who returned to the O’s on a one-year free agent deal this winter — and lefty Cionel Perez.
Speaking of Bautista, there’s no firm indication that he’ll miss any regular-season time just yet, but even a short-term absence would be a notable hit to the bullpen. The 27-year-old hadn’t pitched above A-ball until 2021, when he posted a combined 1.54 ERA across three minor league levels, topping out with just 18 1/3 frames in Triple-A. That, apparently, was all the upper-minors seasoning he needed; Bautista not only made the Orioles’ Opening Day roster in 2022 but almost immediately broke out as one of the game’s top relievers.
In 65 2/3 innings last season, Bautista notched an outstanding 2.19 ERA and tallied the first 15 saves of his career. He averaged an obscene 99.3 mph on both his four-seamer and his sinker, which played a huge role in the right-hander’s gaudy 34.8% strikeout rate. Unlike many flamethrowers who lack any semblance of precision with their high-octane heaters, Bautista turned in a 9.1% walk rate that matched the league-average walk rate for relief pitchers. Obviously, it’s discouraging to hear that last year’s knee issue required what was apparently a relatively lengthy rehab process, but to this point the O’s haven’t broadcast any reason for major concern, either.
As for Hall, the back troubles could throw a wrench into his bid for a spot in the team’s rotation to begin the season. The former first-round pick (No. 21 in 2017) has stated at multiple points this winter that his goal is to win a starting job to begin the season. Given his prospect status and the general uncertainty on the Orioles’ staff behind Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin, that seemed plausible, but expectations should likely be tempered until it becomes clearer as to when Hall’s spring regiment can begin in earnest.
The 24-year-old Hall made his MLB debut last season, starting one game and making ten relief appearances. In 13 1/3 frames, he was tagged for nine runs on 17 hits and six walks. The resulting 5.93 ERA was an eyesore, but Hall flashed huge strikeout potential by fanning 19 of the 64 batters he faced (29.7%). He hasn’t any problems missing bats in the minors, either, evidenced by a mammoth 43.4% strikeout rate in 35 1/3 career Double-A frames as well as a 36.1% mark in 76 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
Where Hall has struggled — and struggled repeatedly — is with his command. The lefty has walked an untenable 13.4% of his opponents across parts of five minor league seasons, including an even more troublesome 14.2% mark in Triple-A. That lack of command has prompted many scouting reports to peg Hall for a future in the bullpen, but the O’s are understandably intent on giving him a legitimate opportunity to stick as a starter. He’s been used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors, with 69 of his 77 total appearances coming out of the rotation.
If Hall is behind schedule to the point that he can’t be ready for a big league rotation spot early in the year, that’ll create additional opportunities for Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, Spenser Watkins, Bruce Zimmermann, Mike Baumann and top prospect Grayson Rodriguez. That said, so long as Hall’s back injury doesn’t prove too serious, he’ll likely get an opportunity early in the season. He and Rodriguez are the organization’s top two pitching prospects, and while Rodriguez (arguably the sport’s top all-around pitching prospect) is typically held in higher regard, Hall nevertheless landed in the No. 75 spot on Baseball America’s 2023 Top 100 prospect rankings.
The Orioles should have no problem with much of anything this year thanks to all those great moves they made this off-season. That’s right all the carefully calculated moves everyone said they would make this off-season to help them get to the next level after a surprising 2022.
Eeeewww! There was so much dripping sarcasm retried/a.v. that my shoes are sticky! 🙂
This is the dumbest take on their site. Everyone with their sarcastic comments.
They are SUPER DEEP and talented at every position, but the funny joke is to criticize the team who is ALREADY early…..to go and compete in the Mets and everyone else’s crazy Spending Spree this off-season.
The REASON the other teams had to spend like that, is because they do not have the talent level that the Orioles possess. They have to pay up for talent, while the Orioles have it everywhere.
They realize that they don’t know yet who will stick, but there is NO reason to block any position , especially with an Overpriced and Overburdening contract when they are so early in the process.
It wouldn’t make sense.
But all the geniuses come on here and give all the sarcastic comments like you all know anything.
The Orioles will end up trading some of this talent pipeline for some controllable pitching. They are not sure yet who to trade.
They are in a unique position where the guys they have in their system just keep getting better and better here, so their prospects are growing value even as they wait on the right deal.
They are building a juggernaut and they know it.
Pitching will come later like it almost always does.
Don’t act like you know more than Mr Elias, it just makes you look foolish.
Lol. The orioles are predictable. You keep believing what you want. Let’s talk in October. I’m not being sarcastic in my comments. It’s the truth. Get back to me after the season.
Why you will just come up with something arbitrary and move the goalposts.
How bout I say the Orioles will beat your team head to head this year.
I don’t even know who your team is, but I Know we will play them.
Let’s go I got the O’s, who is your team?
retired/ — So you do believe the Orioles made “great moves” this off-season?
AceKing – you obviously work in the Orioles’ front office, no one else would have as sunny a take on the team and such a condescending tone to anyone who disagrees.
Prospects, no matter how highly rated, do not equal major league talent. If you have 10 of them you do well if one pans out into a good player.
Still a patchwork, incomplete rotation
Gibson – see Lyles circa 2022. Back end guy.
Irvin – poor splits away from Oakland, moving to AL East, anything under a 4.20 ERA which would be a #3 or #4 starter
Baumann, Bradish, Kremer – could go either way. Ceiling is a mid rotation guy
Rodriguez – coming off injury and has not thrown a pitch in MLB
Means – out until at least midseason
DL Hall – coming off injury and would need to be stretched out. At best case he comes up in late May after his service time has been successfully manipulated… er, he has demonstrated that he is healthy and ready.
The bullpen I’m not worried about, they are hoping for a 2012-16 repeat where the bullpen can carry what was at its best a slightly above average rotation (2014) and usually below average. Certainly not a sustainable strategy and ripe with inconsistency.
The offense was below average last year. No measurable improvements were made to it, they are again hoping that unproven players bloom into good ones. Rutschman is the only one with a body of work big enough for a reasonable conclusion that he’s the real deal. Signs from Henderson were encouraging in a limited body of work, same with Stowers. Cowser & company have not a single MLB AB.
This may be my Matuszitis talking, but as promised in earlier posts I will supplement my point by rehashing the tale of another failed prospect, Daniel Cabrera. An unforgettable review stated that the Orioles didn’t need Randy Johnson because they had his Dominican prototype, a 6-9 pitcher who threw high 90s. Cabrera did turn into a league-leading pitcher:
2006 – led league in walks and wild pitches
2007 – led league in starts, losses, earned runs allowed, and walks
2008 – led league in batters hit by pitches and wild pitches
Especially on the pitching side the lesson is see it to believe it!
Thornton — I get the once-bitten-twice-shy perspective of previous Orioles prospects. Cabrera bombed. Matuz not the guy either. Jake never found it in Camden, nor did Gausman. Erik Bedard did find it at Camden. E-Rod, Josh Hader, talented MLB pitchers that never pitches for the team that drafted/signed them.
Yeap, pitching/prospects can go a lot of different ways.
However, this is not the FO of the past 25 years. Mike Elias has changed everything about player evaluation in the Org.
Okay, so maybe your jaded about even the FO make over. But having 5 players that were drafted in the first 5 picks of the draft (2 of which 1-1), that IS something new. Not many teams in their history have had such a luxury.
((and because of doing it, MLB instituted the draft lottery. That’s a pretty strong indication that the Orioles have made a play that is seen as too strong/unfair.))
Right on man!!!
Well said, well said……..
Lumber discomfort sounds painful!
Haha I was gonna say that sounds like an erection lasting longer than four hours.
Odds of Mychal Givens closing out games are up. Also makes room for Gillaspie, Wells, and Politi,
Since bullpens are so quixotic, I’m taking Joey Krehbiel as dark horse! (I guess he was least best in O’s pen last year??)
First half Joey last season was lights out. 2nd half not so much. Hope he just got tired and we see 1st half Joey all this season
Hope Hall isn’t one of these paper pitchers. Always hurt
Starting to look that way. I’m not surprised Hall is having issues, I just assumed something would happen to him in ST that would keep him out of the rotation.
I’d say he looks like a high leverage bullpen arm, though he still needs to work on control. That’s been the issue with him for five years now, and he really hasn’t shown any kind of long term consistency.
He looks good for brief periods though.
C Yards Jeff
When Lopez was traded to the Twins, the O’s lost 1/2 their high end set up duo with Bautista going to closer. It showed. No body else in the bullpen stepped up to help Tate. And now with Tate on DL, it could be a rough start to the year winning close games unless a couple of the fellas can get comfortable in ST taking on this role.
They got maybe the highest rated pitching prospect in the Twins system…..
….and another pitcher….
……For Jorge 5.94 ERA Lopez…..
You make that deal all day every day.
It’s not that the deal wasn’t a good one. You do it everytime.
It’s that we did really miss first half Jorge Lopez. We need another strong backend arm. Maybe Tyler Wells & Mychal Givens can be that. Or maybe DL Hall or Bryan Baker becomes that guy. I don’t know but we certainly need someone to run with it.
C Yards Jeff
Tyler Wells as a high end set up guy. Hmmm. Interesting. I could see that.
Wow so ok here’s my take…. It just appears that this Team quite possibly knew about all these injuries months ago but kept it from the media and fans? That’s what happens when you own the main media? Hmmm
Where’s Dan Connelly when you need him?
So we all knew they decided to wing it this season and not bring in any help because they like the guys they have as we we’re all thinking that contrary to what they originally told the fans.Got everyone all pumped vup because we’re going for it this year!
Well early on in the off season they told everyone they were going to sign free agents but nothing came about?
To make matters worse then we see Wacca just signed for 6.5 Million with options amongst some very other reasonable signings.
What gets me is they could be without 4 or 5 relievers to start the season and they possibly knew it but did not do anything about it?
So if they would’ve told the media and fan base back awhile ago about these issues they would’ve be blasted? So they had no intention of signing anyone?
So did they only make it look good by bringing in Givens because they had no choice because they had too? Well he can be a pretty good 7th or 8th inning guy but definitely not a closer.
All legitimate Questions…..
The Mets and Chad Cohen happened.
He decided that he was going to bid up all of The Free Agents, (including ones he didn’t really need)
He is the drunk guy at the bar trying to buy a Chip.
The Orioles were wise to sit this one out.
Trust the process. They are suddenly a player development juggernaut, so no need to mess that up.
Lean into it.
Let’s Go O’s
C Yards Jeff
You’re killin’ AceKing, you’re killin’it. Ever consider changing your moniker to AllAces. Way to bring it! Go O’s.
Well that makes some add’l time to decide which pieces go into the bullpen. Tate out hurts. But maybe the O’s can audition Rule 5 Politi a bit longer. I think he’s going to pitch in the majors this season, just may or may not be with us.
Tricky because we need a solid pen this year when fielding effectively all #3-4s that may not go deep in games. (Though I was a bit shocked to learn that Irvin has a solid stretch of quality starts last year).
This also explains why Tate isn’t on the WBC roster.
Yeah they can get creative with strategic DL placement ( like every team does) with Politi….is becomes easier when there are other injuries.
I feel like they will want to keep as much good pitching as they can, for obvious reasons.
I wouldn’t bet on Bruce Zimmerman keeping his roster spot, as an example, over a Politi
No word on Means?
He’s out at least through June. Hoping for mid July return
You actually don’t need a comma before the word “either” in any circumstance.
Also, why start a sentence “That, apparently, was all the upper-minors seasoning he needed” when you could make it flow better by saying “Apparently, that was all the upper-minors seasoning he needed?” This is comma abuse.
Well they still have to play the games and anything can happen however the I’d were very fortunate as far as Injuries are concerned but not getting a good start to the season with the Pen.
At this point in time I’m going to say they will finish 7 to 10 games below 500. My assessment has nothing to do with how many free agents they signed.
To date they still don’t have a proven left handed Power Bat although they made some improvements in other areas.They don’t hit and run and fail to hit in the clutch.
Adley will be great as will Henderson.Good young Team and can be exciting. If they make strides in the weak area’s they could surprise again. But it’s doubtful.
I think they have one of the best GM’s in Mike Elias and a very strong coaching staff a pretty darn good manager and excellent analytics dept.
Any other ideas where they finish up?
As folks get upset at the lack of splashy signings in Baltimore, my take on it is that the O’s have moved from re-building mode and into building mode. It’s what Elias has consistently said about the process – he’s building an elite talent pipeline, is how he puts it. Welp, Baltimore has re-built the faulty infrastructure, and for MLB fans not aquatinted with how things were done in BMore that meant construction of an O’s baseball academy in the Dominican, ushering in a team of analytics folks who have already shown some impressive results and creating an international scouting department. These aren’t simple fixes for a franchise that was behind in all these endeavors.
Elias is trying to build off the organization’s many strengths and 2023 is a banner year to find out what he’s got. I love the O’s poker-faced approach to the off-season. It shows me that Baltimore isn’t desperate for talent – they aren’t. It also shows me that there is a meticulous plan in place that isn’t a fickle overreach. There’s a rich complexity to the Orioles that hasn’t been there in a long time.
The O’s rotation and bullpen have plenty of overlap and depth that a brief spell without Tate can be addressed by moving Wells into the bullpen for a bit. Trust me when I say that this is one of deepest pitching corps the O’s have gone into spring training with in the last twenty years.
The O’s have 7 or 8 starting pitcher candidates. Generally teams can get way with 3 or 4 starters the first 4-6 weeks of the season due to weather postponements.
They have 2 relief pitchers that may not be ready on day one. So? Judging from most of the comments here it’s as if the O’s will be out of contention for a playoff spot by May 1.
Fortunately, we’re almost at the end of Silly Season – where everyone is in accordance with who won and lost the off-season….which by late-May / early-June is proven to be totally off in regards to the following season of play.
I’ll be honest, you talked me into not losing hope with Tate and Felix dealing with injuries