We learned yesterday which pitchers the Baltimore Orioles plan to use in tomorrow’s game against the Twins. Why is Mike Wright Jr one of them?
We learned via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com yesterday of the seven pitchers the Orioles plan to use in their spring training opener tomorrow afternoon against the Twins, and Mike Wright Jr is among them.
To a point, it makes sense that the Orioles keep trying to make something out of Wright. He was among the Orioles’ top prospects from 2013 to 2015, mostly seen and used as a starter in the minors, and he had varied success in the role.
He was effective in his first full season at Double-A Bowie, posting a 3.26 ERA in 143.2 innings across 26 starts. His 81 innings at Triple-A Norfolk in 2015 looked good as well, as Wright pitched to a 2.22 ERA in 14 starts.
He had control issues and never posted high strikeout numbers, but scouts loved Wright’s 6’6″ frame and his ability to get on top of pitches, thinking that he’d eventually become a workhorse starting pitcher for the Orioles.
Alas, as has been the case for too long now, the O’s haven’t been able to translate prospect pedigree into success at the major league level, specifically on the pitching side.
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Everything we’ve seen from Wright at the major league level has left us wanting more. The Orioles have transitioned him out of the rotation and into the bullpen full-time, allowing him to work closer to his max velocity and hoping that the strikeouts will play up.
However, in the four seasons he’s spent in Baltimore, he’s never posted an ERA below 5.55, and never a FIP below 4.72. Keep in mind, this is across 228.2 innings, so there aren’t any sample size issues here.
Wright has struggled to command his pitches in the zone, evidenced by his career 8.5% walk rate, which sits a few ticks above the league average. It’d be more palatable if the strikeouts were there, but the career 17.3% K rate isn’t getting the job done.
I think the big problem is that Wright looks like a decent pitcher on paper, but he hasn’t been able to perform on the diamond.
According to Fangraphs data, Wright has five pitches, all of them below average, and they’ve been that way since he started pitching in Baltimore.
Maybe the O’s new coaching staff can find a solution here. Maybe he can mix his pitches better, or fix something mechanical so he can do a better job locating on the edges of the zone. I’d like to think it’s possible because by all accounts, Wright seems like a great person. But if you can’t do the job, you can’t have a job.
Either way, something has to give. Whether that’s Wright finally finding success in Baltimore this year, or the Orioles recognizing that this might just not be working, and moving on. Because the Orioles can’t keep throwing the same old Mike Wright Jr out there. It isn’t working.