The Baltimore Orioles have been waiting for a catalyst for nearly a decade, and they finally have it in the way of catcher Adley Rutschman. The Orioles have slowly gained ground in the American League Wild Card race and have looked an entirely different team since he made his debut in late May.
Before Rutschman made it to Birdland, the Orioles were 17-24. Since he’s arrived? 29-23, leaving them just one game below .500. Rutschman was a key cog in the team’s longest win streak since 1999.
No aspect of catching is more crucial than the relationship with the pitching staff, and Rutschman seems to have hit the ground running if you look at the month-by-month ERA:
- April: 3.76
- May: 4.36
- June: 3.86
- July: 3.46
Adley Rutschman has fared better than his counterpart Robinson Chirinos during his time in the majors; O’s hurlers have thrown to the tune of a 3.88 ERA in the 47 games Rutschman has been behind the plate compared to 4.56 in the 44 games Chirinos has received.
Adley Rutschman provides the Orioles with good offense and defense.
The Orioles have played much better the last two months, and there is one player who should get mush of the credit. There is a significant statistic not only for the runs on the board, but to compare how the game is called as a catcher. Since May 21st, the day Adley Rutschman was called up, his pitchers’ ERA has been 3.88, whereas Robinson Chirinos‘ has been 4.56, since the start of the season. That’s nearly a half of a run difference when there’s a change in catchers behind the plate.
Rutschman also has caught 273 strikeouts to Chirinos’ 298. While Adley started nearly two full months after Opening Day, the total games are the nearly same. Adley is at 47 games and 44 games started, whereas Robinson is 46, and games started at 43.
Defensively, there is a definite increase in productivity from the pitching staff, but there’s another element to Adley’s game – hitting.
Adley’s OPS currently sits at .738, which would rank 4th in MLB for Catchers had he the minimum plate appearances of 288. Currently, he sits at 187. Chirinos has an OPS of .583, which gives him an OPS+ of 50.
Additionally, with the depth of pitchers in the Orioles farm system, we could potentially see Adley’s ERA go down over time, and his total strikeouts increase. These prospects include Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall. As starters come up, the bullpen will progress as well with pitchers being moved to the bullpen. Pitchers that have converted over that could have a significant impact in the future are All-Star closer Jorge Lopez and lefty Bruce Zimmermann, both of whom could provide some strong relief down the stretch. What’s most interesting about Zimmermann
is that he could serve as a spot starter in the future and have a very versatile role on the team moving forward.
What is most significant is the belief around the pitching staff when Rutschman is behind the plate and how well pitches are framed around the zone. The game revolves around the catcher and the Orioles now have a player they can build a team around.