The Orioles have had an extremely successful season so far, leading to GM Mike Elias declaring the Orioles as buyers at the upcoming trade deadline. This is an exciting development for the franchise and signals the first time in many years that the team will be looking to add to the major league roster.
But even with the Orioles looking to buy at the deadline, it wouldn't surprise me if they stray away from the big names and look for some bargain buys in order to preserve prospect capital. Here are a few underrated pitchers that could make big impacts for the Orioles down the stretch.
Under the radar bullpen options for the Orioles to target at the trade deadline
Jordan Montgomery: Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Montgomery should be a familiar face for many O's fans. He pitched for the New York Yankees for roughly 5 and a half seasons before being traded to the Cardinals at the deadline last season and he's had a lot of success against the Orioles in the past. Montgomery has been one of the lone bright spots on a Cardinals pitching staff that has struggled mightily. So far this season he's pitched to an ERA of 3.23 in 103 innings with 96 strikeouts. He's been very consistent in both New York and St. Louis and has had an ERA under 4 in each of his past three seasons.
Although Montgomery wouldn't be the flashiest pick up ever, it would make a lot of sense for both the O's and Cardinals. The Cardinals are having an abysmal season, sitting in last place in the N.L Central. As for the Orioles, they would be getting some much needed consistency out of the middle of their rotation and would also be adding another lefty to a predominantly right-handed starting staff (outside of Irvin). The Orioles should also be able to acquire Montgomery for relatively cheap since he's set to reach free agency in 2024.
Jason Foley: Relief Pitcher, Detroit Tigers
Jason Foley may not be a household name, but his numbers jump off the page. His surface level stats are extremely good, featuring an ERA of just 2.09 and a WHIP of 1.01 in 38.2 innings this season. But what really impresses me about Foley are his advanced stats. According to Baseball Savant, Foley sits in the top 85th percentile or better in fastball velocity, BB%, Barrel %, xERA, and xSLG.
I think Foley is a perfect fit for an Orioles bullpen that desperately needs middle relief help. He's your Dillon Tate replacement, who has sadly missed the entire season after a fantastic year in 2022. He's a hard throwing, right-handed, sinker ball pitcher that generates a ton of weak contact.
Detroit might be hesitant to move on from him since he's just 27 years old and has multiple years left before reaching free agency, but the Tigers are a struggling organization that should be looking to add young talent at the deadline. Foley could be that key middle reliever to help get the Orioles to Cano and Bautista on the back end.
David Robertson: Relief Pitcher, New York Mets
Robertson should be another familiar name for many O's fans. He spent 9 seasons with the New York Yankees where he won a World Series and recorded 53 saves. But even at 38 years old, Robertson continues to get it done. He signed on a one year deal with the Mets this off-season and has become their full time closer after Edwin Diaz was hurt in the World Baseball Classic. He's been fantastic in that role, recording the save in 12 out of 15 tries, with an ERA of 2.06 and 46 strikeouts in just 39 innings.
Similarly to Jason Foley, Robertson has fantastic advanced numbers. He's in the top 85th percentile in K%, xERA, xBA, and Whiff %, while sitting in the top 99th percentile in fastball spin rates. His cutter is one of the best pitches in baseball, holding opposing hitters to a .143 batting average and a .196 slugging percentage.
Obviously the Orioles don't need a closer thanks to the dominance of Felix Bautista, but Robertson has plenty of experience in the set-up role as well. He served as the set-up man for Mariano Rivera for years and excelled in that spot. The only issue is that the Mets are undoubtedly looking to compete even though they are struggling this season. So, if they go on a run in the second half, they may not feel the need to deal away Robertson. But if the Mets do continue to struggle, Robertson would be a huge pick up for the O's thanks to his production and vast postseason experience.
James Paxton: Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
Paxton is having an unbelievable year after missing all of 2022 due to Tommy John Surgery. He's pitched just 56 innings this season but has brought a huge lift to the Red Sox starting staff. He has a record of 5-1 in 10 starts, with 64 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.73. Paxton has seemingly picked up right from where he left off before the surgery. He's always been a very solid starting pitcher, dating back to his years with the Mariners and Yankees and that trend has continued this season.
Similarly to Montgomery, Paxton would provide another solid, left-handed, middle of the rotation arm for the O's in the stretch run. But if the Orioles did want to add Paxton, it could be a bit tricky. For starters, the O's may be hesitant to give up much in the form of prospect capital for a guy who is coming off of a major surgery.
Second, the deal would have to be made with a division rival in the Boston Red Sox. To go along with that, the Red Sox are actually having a very solid season, but they still find themselves in the cellar of the A.L East. I wouldn't completely rule out this acquisition though because the Orioles did acquire Andrew Miller from the Red Sox years ago who played a big part in their 2014 postseason run.
Keynan Middleton: Relief Pitcher, Chicago White Sox
This last name is most likely someone you haven't heard of, but Keynan Middleton is having a great year for the White Sox. The hard throwing righty has a 3.09 ERA with 41 strikeouts in just 32 innings pitched for the White Sox. His advanced stats are even more impressive, placing him in the 96th percentile in chase rate and whiff %, while being in the 90th percentile in K%. His fastball and changeup have been deadly, holding opposing hitters to a sub-.200 batting average.
Middleton may not seem like a huge impact acquisition, but I believe he would bring some added stability to a weak middle-relief core. He would also be a cheap option for the Orioles since he's slated to reach free agency after the 2023 season. With the White Sox struggling to stay relevant in a weak A.L Central division, they could certainly look to move on from some of their expiring contracts.
Although these 5 pitchers may not be the superstars that we hope the O's go after, they could still be big impact acquisitions to help fuel an Orioles playoff run.