Orioles get positive injury news on ace Kyle Bradish

Kyle Bradish will likely return to the rotation much earlier than initially feared.
Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
Baltimore Orioles Photo Day / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

On a day where Orioles fans received puzzling news that star infielder Jackson Holliday would start the season in the minors, Mike Elias delivered some much-needed positive news on ace right-hander Kyle Bradish.

According to Orioles reporter Jake Rill, Bradish is "expected to pitch early in the first half of the season." With the first half of the season concluding on July 14 when the Orioles wrap a three-game set against the Yankees, it is reasonable to assume that "early" in the first half refers to some time in May or so.

While Bradish could sustain a setback any day between now and his debut, this point cannot be overstated: this is probably the best news Orioles fans could have hoped for after Baltimore announced that Bradish would start the season on the Injured List with a sprained right UCL back in February. The worst-case scenario (which is technically still possible if Bradish has a setback) would have been Tommy John surgery, which likely would have sidelined Bradish until well into the 2025 season.

But Bradish has had, by all accounts, a setback-free Spring. Indeed, Friday's encouraging news follows positive reports on Bradish in spring training. After the injury was announced, the Baltimore Sun reported that Bradish was experiencing "accelerated healing." On March 5, 2024, Roch Kubatko tweeted that Bradish had progressed to throwing from 140 feet.

Orioles' Kyle Bradish continues to progress in return from UCL injury

To be sure, Bradish will require a handful of weeks to get caught up, especially since he did not pitch in any games during spring training. However, this is terrific news for the Orioles, who were counting on Bradish to build on an excellent 2023 season, where he went 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA in 30 starts with the Orioles. Bradish finished fourth in the American League Cy voting, and he earned the honor of starting the Orioles' first postseason game since 2016.

That is why the February news that Bradish had sustained a sprained UCL was so devastating. Only a few days earlier, the Orioles had announced the blockbuster acquisition of star pitcher Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers, which would have bumped Bradish (already an ace in his own right) to the Orioles' number two pitcher. With Burnes joining Bradish, emerging star Grayson Rodriguez, steady right-hander Dean Kremer, and some combination of John Means and Tyler Wells, the Orioles were braced to have one of the best, if not the best, starting rotation in Major League Baseball.

When the Orioles announced the injuries to Bradish and John Means at the start of camp, it felt like the team was back to square one. They had acquired the ace pitcher they had been seeking for months (Burnes) only to lose ace pitcher Bradish days later. Excitement over Tyler Wells strengthening the bullpen as a high-leverage power arm changed to the realization that Wells would need to remain in the rotation, despite struggling mightily in the second half of the past two seasons as a starter. Essentially, the gain of Burnes and the loss of Bradish cancelled each other out. The Orioles had improved by adding Burnes, but with the loss of Bradish, it was fair to wonder whether they would actually be significantly better in 2024 than in 2023.

This week's news changes that. While Bradish will not be available to start the season, he should be available to pitch perhaps as early as May. Barring health, the Orioles might be able to employ a rotation of Burnes, Bradish, Rodriguez, Means, and Kremer for the majority of the season.

Again, while the phrase "early in the first half of the season" is vague, it can only be considered good news. And assuming Bradish's elbow injury allows him to pitch as effectively as he did last season, the Orioles' rotation suddenly, once again, becomes one of the most dangerous in the American League.