O's could pursue more free agent pitching

It was a bit of a surprise when the Orioles reached an agreement with free agent right-hander Jordan Lyles on a deal that will pay him $7 million for the 2022 season. They agreed to sign Lyles before the lockout began, but the signing will not become official until after it ends.

But when it does end, will Lyles' deal be just the first the Orioles add with free agent pitchers? Will they sign another pitcher to a similar deal, and if so, who could it be?

After the experience of last season, when some young O's pitchers probably threw more big league innings than the club was comfortable with, Lyles was signed, no doubt, to eat innings. That would give the young pitchers more time to develop on the farm and allow the team to bring them up when they are ready and not out of necessity or even desperation.

In the first few months of the offseason we wrote about some potential free agent pitchers the team could sign, and Lyles was one of those noted. If the club adds one or more already featured here it could be one of the following group.

Camden-Yards-View-from-Behind-Plate-Sidebar.jpgBrett Anderson: This lefty, now 33, made 24 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021. He has signed one-year free agent deals with the Brewers the last two seasons, one for $5 million in 2020 and for another $2.5 million last year, when he went 4-9 with a 4.22 ERA. Over 96 innings, he allowed 102 hits and 11 homers with 1.354 WHIP. He gave up 9.6 hits per nine innings, including 1.0 homers, with 2.6 walks and 5.4 strikeouts. Opponents produced a .766 OPS against him and his groundball rate was strong at 56.4.

Anderson has pitched in the majors since 2009 and, over the last four years combined, he has a 4.12 ERA (and 104 ERA+, which is above league average) in 399 innings with 1.310 WHIP, 2.3 walk rate and 5.1 strikeout rate.

So, he scores well in experience, command, and keeping the ball in the ballpark and on the ground often. He's not going to put up big strikeout numbers, and asking him for 150 or more innings seems ambitious. His fastball, which he threw 46 percent last year, averaged 89 mph to go with a changeup he threw 25 percent and a curveball 13 percent of the time.

Tyler Anderson: This Anderson, 31, went a combined 7-11 with a 4.53 ERA between Pittsburgh and Seattle. He ended up with the Mariners after a late July trade. He did eat innings, throwing a combined 167, allowing 170 hits over 31 starts. He posted a combined 1.246 WHIP, allowing 9.2 hits per nine innings with 1.5 homers, 2.0 walks and 7.2 strikeouts.

Like the other Anderson, this one doesn't get much swing and miss but throws a lot of strikes with a respectable WHIP and low walk total. He does not, however, have a good groundball rate. His 34.7 mark would have ranked in the bottom third on the Orioles in 2021. Anderson earned $1.775 million in the 2020 season and $2.5 million last year.

Wily Peralta: This 32-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic put together a pretty solid season, going 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA over 93 2/3 innings for the Detroit Tigers. He began the year at Triple-A and didn't make his season debut with Detroit until June 15. He allowed 87 hits, including 12 homers, with 1.335 WHIP, 8.4 hits per nine innings, a walk rate of 3.7 and strikeout rate of just 5.6 per nine.

He had a big year against lefty batters, yielding just a .192 batting average against and .613 OPS. And those numbers were .300/.858 against right-handed batters. A big disparity, although for his career those numbers are .281/.814 versus lefty batters and .270/.740 against righties.

Peralta had an impressive five-start stretch from June 26-July 18, posting a 3-0 record with a 0.34 ERA, allowing just one earned run over 26 2/3 innings. Then he closed the season by allowing two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts from Aug. 21-Oct. 1. In that span he went 1-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings. He did miss a brief span of time from Aug. 22-Sept. 1 with a blister issue.

The Orioles could certainly - and likely will look to - add more pitching on minor league deals as well. But if they pursue more pitchers on major league deals, these three could be under consideration.

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