Wednesday marks a significant milestone in the career of Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Gibson. The veteran pitcher officially reached the 10-year service time mark after spending a majority of his career with the Twins before brief stints with the Rangers, Phillies, and now the Orioles. The 10-year service time mark is rarely reached and Gibson becomes the only current Oriole to achieve said milestone as he leads a young pitching staff through a postseason push in arguably the toughest division in modern MLB history.
Throughout his career, Gibson has appeared on one All-Star team in 2021 and pitched in last seasons World Series with Philadelphia. While Gibson certainly does not have the merits of a Hall of Fame career, his veteran presence is extremely valuable for a young Orioles rotation which has faced some adversity this season but will also see improvements with the acquisition of Jack Flaherty and the hopefully soon return of John Means from Tommy John Surgery.
Statistically, Gibson has been about league average as a pitcher this season with a 4.50 ERA and 93 ERA+. He has filled a similar role to Jordan Lyles last season as a veteran leader and innings eater. Gibson leads the American League in games started as well as hits allowed and has already accumulated 140 innings pitched on the season. He has pitched at least 147 innings in every full season since 2015 and is sure to pass that mark for this season in the next two starts.
His peripherals are all strong this season as he has a 3.74 FIP and has allowed less than one home run per nine innings pitched. He also has a solid 2.76 walks per nine innings pitched as well as 7.52 strikeouts in that same span. Fangraphs also gives him an impressive 2.6 WAR at this point in the season, which suggests he has been noticeably more valuable than a league average pitcher.
Kyle Gibson has been a strong addition to the Orioles rotation
Kyle has also pitched quite well recently. His most recent start came Saturday against the Mets in a 7-3 win in which Gibson went seven innings and recorded his eleventh win of the season. In the start, Gibson allowed three earned runs, two on a Jeff McNeil home run, and struck out an impressive nine batters. Before that, he went exactly six innings with three earned runs allowed or less and at least five strikeouts in each of his previous three starts.
On the mound, Kyle has found his stride at the perfect time as the Orioles hope to continue their strong season until the end of the year. With young pitchers like Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, and Tyler Wells possibly approaching innings limits on the season, his ability to give quality innings every fifth day is an asset for the Orioles.
In the clubhouse and the dugout, Gibson's presence has been felt since he joined the team this offseason. He has become a vocal leader in the clubhouse and has helped this young team find themselves as a group. Many of the celebrations that have gone viral on social media for the Orioles were thought up by Gibson. For example, many in the clubhouse credit him for the creation of the Homer Hose that hitters take a drink from after each home run they hit.
He also helped think of the creation of the Bird Bath section in left field at Camden Yards that has become an instant sensation in Baltimore and across baseball. He is also on the top step of the dugout spitting out water after every Orioles extra-base hit as the hitter hits the sprinkler dance. During a game in Atlanta earlier this season, Gibson needed to hold water in his mouth for far too long after James McCann forgot to celebrate his double.
His youthful reaction combined with the hilarious broadcast call by Kevin Brown and Ben McDonald created a viral moment for the Orioles early in the season and showed the strength of the bond that Gibson had with his teammates despite having only been an Oriole for a couple of months.
His willingness to celebrate with his teammates, position players and pitchers alike, has clearly made him a clubhouse favorite and has strengthened the bond of the Orioles team as well as their ability to act cohesively as a team.
Simple moments like those mentioned should not go overlooked as the Orioles look to have their best season in my lifetime and it will also be valuable throughout the dog days of summer as adversity and other tough losses, such as the 7-6 loss to Houston Tuesday night, can create friction in a Major League clubhouse.
Scrolling through Instagram Wednesday morning, I noticed that the Orioles made a post commemorating this milestone for Gibson. Of course, reaching the ten-year mark is a big moment for any player. Last season, the Orioles celebrated the moment with catcher Robinson Chirinos who was also a strong clubhouse presence for last year's team despite his struggles on the field.
The reaction from other Orioles players I follow on Instagram was cool to see and proved the bond that Gibson has created with his teammates. Young players like Grayson Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman, and Tyler Wells all posted on their IG stories to congratulate Gibson on his achievement.
As the Orioles reach the home stretch of the season, we are reminded all the time that these players are humans and, despite their immense talent, many of the star players on the team are relatively young and the presence of a veteran like Gibson plays a huge role for them. He may not receive any Cy Young or MVP votes, and he will not win Orioles MVP at the end of the season, but Gibson's role on this team has been as important to their success as anyone on the roster.