The Baltimore Orioles closer, Jorge López, has been a renaissance man in the Orioles bullpen this season, and he has one pitch that has changed it all.
Prior to the 2022 season, Jorge López was a starting pitcher through and through. Last year, López posted a 6.07 ERA in 121.2 IP for the Baltimore Orioles. Going 3-14 wasn’t at all what was needed, and something needed to change.
Jorge was utterly open in discussing the nerves that starting gave him, and moving to the bullpen might’ve been just what he needed to keep his Major League Career alive. At the start of the year, nobody honestly knew who the Opening Day closer would be, but it didn’t take long for everyone watching the Baltimore Orioles to know who it would be.
From 2018 through 2021, the sinker wasn’t his go-to pitch; it was one of his most non-existent pitches used. The velocity of his sinker was low, and the hard-hit rate was higher than any other that he threw. However, things have changed drastically since the start of the 2022 season and his move to the pen.
Baltimore Orioles: Jorge Lopez and his rejuvenated sinker
His sinker was hit hard roughly 50% of the time in years past. This year, it has only been hit hard 30% of the time. You can credit that to his control getting better or the speed that he has adapted with the pitch.
In looking at the graph above, you can see that from 2020 until now, his sinker has gone from 93 MPH to almost 98 MPH. Due to the apparent success of his sinker, you can also see how much more he has thrown it. Precisely 10% more from last year. His movement has been key to this pitch, and even though it’s not a massive amount of movement, it’s been enough.
Probably the most significant change over the past year has been his swing and miss, or whiff, percentage. The probability that batters will miss a Jorge López sinker has gone from just over 10% last year to almost 18% in 2022. Things that appear minor on the screen can go a long way, and he has taken full advantage of that this year.
Successes are all happening all around the mound for him, but his sinker has been the one with the most revitalization. Do not expect him to be perfect, but do expect his sinker to be the pitch move prized by him and the Baltimore Orioles and most despised by the opposition.