Projecting O’s top 5 pitching WAR leaders in 2023

The Orioles’ pitching staff is going to make or break the teams’ chances of making the postseason in 2023.

In years past, the O’s struggled to find a solid rotation, but this year, that’s not the case. The Birds have plenty of options for starters, so their task is deciding who earns a rotation spot, goes to the bullpen or starts the season in the minors.

The bullpen might not put up as good of numbers as they did last season, but it is going to be very strong. Like the rotation, there is a ton of depth in the pen.

With that being said, let’s predict which five O’s pitchers will have the highest wins above replacement (WAR) in 2023. WAR is a statistic used to measure a player’s value in all facets of the game by deciphering how many more wins he’s worth than a replacement-level player at his same position.

Let’s get started.

5. Grayson Rodriguez: 2022 WAR (N/A) – 2023 Projected WAR (1.8)

This is really a wild card pick, as we truly have no idea what to expect with Rodriguez in the majors. Also, with his injury sustained in June of last year, there may be some worries or complications.

His role is still undetermined for the season, but Rodriguez will likely start the season in the rotation, baring any injury or performance meltdown in Grapefruit League play. It is not determined yet if he will have some sort of innings limit, but if he does, the O’s may put him in the bullpen for a period of time.

Throughout his minors career, Rodriguez has a 2.47 ERA over 292 innings pitched. He had 419 strikeouts with only 98 walks, amounting to 4.28 strikeout to walk ratio.

Gray-Rod has electric stuff that could lead to him having a great rookie season.

4. Cole Irvin: 2022 WAR (2.1) – 2023 Projected WAR (2.3)

Acquiring Irvin in a trade was one of the best moves made by GM Mike Elias the Orioles’ front office this offseason.

The veteran left-hander will eat a ton of innings for the Birds this season, as he takes on the role of Jordan Lyles last season.

Irvin started 30 games for the Oakland Athletics last season, tallying 181 innings and posting a 3.98 ERA. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters but limits his walks, which is a definite plus.

He is prone to giving up the long ball, but the new left field wall at Camden Yards will prove to be helpful for Irvin. He will fit right into the O’s starting rotation and will have a solid year in Baltimore.

3. Cionel Pérez: 2022 WAR (2.8) – 2023 Projected WAR (3.0)

Pérez had an outstanding year for the Orioles in 2022, holding a mere 1.40 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched. He will be a reliable back-end piece in the bullpen once again in 2023.

The young lefty hits 97 MPH with his fastball regularly, which he throws alongside a slider sitting at 84 MPH and a sinker at 96 MPH.

His slider has insane movement, breaking 44 inches down and 12 inches across, which are both well above big league average.

Elias taking a gamble last season with an unproven arm and failed starter in Pérez might have been the best find in 2022.

2. Félix Bautista: 2022 WAR (2.6) – 2023 Projected WAR (3.2)

Bautista is one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball, standing at a towering 6-foot-5 inches tall.

His fastball topped at 101.9 MPH last season and sat around 99, as he pairs it with an incredible splitter, sitting around 88 MPH, and every once in a while, a slider that he sneaks in to get ahead in the count.

Bautista was put into the closing role after Jorge López was traded to the Minnesota Twins, which was a big task for him, as he was only a rookie. However, Bautista shined in his new role, earning 15 saves in 17 opportunities.

He held a 2.19 ERA with a 3.83 strikeout to walk ratio in 2022. The Mountain is prepared to come into games in the ninth and secure a lead for the O’s once more in 2023.

1. Dean Kremer: 2022 WAR (2.8) – 2023 Projected WAR (3.4)

Kremer took the role of an ace in 2022 and it appears he will have a similar role heading into 2023.

His best performance, of course, was his complete game shutout against the eventual World Series Champions Houston Astros, where he gave up four total hits and struck out six.

Kremer pitched in 22 games last year, starting 21 of them. He posted a 3.23 ERA and won eight games for the Birds, which was the second most among the staff, only trailing Lyles.

He relies on his fastball (94 MPH) and cutter (88 MPH) but also throws in a changeup, curve and sinker. His arsenal has extreme potential, and his job this spring is to learn how to properly utilize all of his pitches.

Which O’s pitchers do you think will lead the club in WAR this season? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Dakota’s content? Follow her on Twitter – @oriolesko

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