Nothing has changed with the Orioles rotation as we enter a new week. The same group of candidates for five spots, led by … we don’t know.
The thought of an open competition really intrigues. Then again, so does a trade for a legitimate No. 1 starter, but don't leave a candle burning for Miami's Pablo López, because he's headed to the Twins.
Nothing on the free agent market is going to settle the issue. Michael Wacha isn’t the answer, but he’s been successful between stops on the injured list. He’d be a nice insurance policy while the Orioles hope for a continued upward trend with some of their younger arms. And that the road for top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is a smooth one.
Who really can say until he gets out there, takes the ball every five or six days and pushes himself beyond the number of games he grew accustomed to in the minors?
The Orioles will get back John Means at some point during the summer, perhaps before the All-Star break, certainly after it. They more easily can calculate what they’ll receive from veteran Kyle Gibson based on his 10 seasons in the majors, though they also trust that their studies of video and pitching program will bring out the best in him.
They’re also projecting what Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells can give them over a full season. Wells impressed in the first half, Bradish mostly in the second after he recovered from his shoulder injury and relied more on his off-speed stuff, though his 11-strikeout, no-walk performance in St. Louis happened in May.
And then, there’s Dean Kremer, who was in the thick of the starter competition until the final days of spring training, went to the bullpen and landed on the injured list after straining his oblique while warming in the third game of the season.
Kremer also impressed in the second half, posting a 3.55 ERA and 1.219 WHIP in 14 games (13 starts) and tossing his first career complete-game shutout on Sept. 23 versus the Astros, but he had a 2.59 ERA in eight starts before the break. It wasn’t necessarily a tale of two halves. He crafted a 22 2/3-inning scoreless streak that ended on July 4. He was mostly good.
Kremer’s ERA was down to 3.07 after his shutout, but he allowed a combined six earned runs in 11 innings over his last two starts. His total innings in the majors jumped from 53 2/3 in 2021 to 125 1/3.
The roster of players working out at Push Performance in Tempe, Ariz. includes Kremer, who will leave camp to join Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.
“I love it there and they’ve been taking really good care of me heading into next season,” Kremer said last week during an interview on “The Hot Stove Show” on MASN.
Kremer said his workouts are more strength-oriented in the offseason, “and then the baseball will take care of itself as we become closer to spring training, and through spring training, as well, as the stuff in the weight room kind of calms down.”
“Essentially, what you do in the offseason is pretty much building a base for what you’re going to destroy during the season,” he said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it, and that’s why guys work so hard in the offseason, just because you don’t get the opportunity to lift heavy or as much or as frequently as you do during the offseason. It’s pretty much really trying to build a base for you to kind of destroy, for lack of a better term.”
Kremer also spoke of the team unity that helped to define the 2022 Orioles.
“We had a blast,” he said. “We had one of the best clubhouses I’ve ever been a part of. There were no egos or anything like that. Everybody was friendly. We all kind of came up together and we all want to be there.”
If you own an Instagram account, Kremer and girlfriend Marlee share their culinary creations @offseason_bites, which they created last offseason.
“We kind of have our niches,” he said. “I’m more of the savory side while she does desserts, and she also does some savory, but I definitely think her specialty is in baking. She’s really good.
“My mom, fortunately, cooked pretty much every night when we were kids. We didn’t eat out a whole lot. And so, watching her do it a lot, and then when I eventually moved out a handful of years ago, I figured, OK, well I’ve got to do this for myself. And since I’ve been fortunate not to have a job in the offseason, it’s kind of another hobby of mine. It really started taking shape after the 2020 season. That’s when I kind of really got into cooking and I enjoy it. Every dish is like a challenge and it’s fun to recreate.”