A new pitch could unlock young Orioles star pitcher’s potential in 2024

One of the Orioles' most talented young pitchers could level up in 2024 thanks to adding a new pitch to his arsenal.
Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two
Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Heading into the 2023 season, Baltimore Orioles fans were expecting big things out of pitcher Grayson Rodriguez when he made his big league debut. Despite having a tough spring training last year, Rodriguez was still considered by many to be one of the better pitching prospects in baseball thanks to having three pitches that are very capable of missing bats.

Unfortunately, the 2023 season didn't exactly go to plan for Rodriguez. He did not have a bad year per se, but getting a 4.35 ERA in 23 starts with fairly average strikeout and walk numbers from the team's best young pitching prospect wasn't exactly what the Orioles were hoping for out of him (although his second half numbers were significantly better). Opposing lefties in particular gave him fits last season, as they had an .837 OPS against him in 221 plate appearances.

Luckily, Baltimore and Rodriguez have a plan for how to get even more out of his arm this coming season. Rodriguez has entered camp in great shape and apparently has added a two-seam fastball to his arsenal heading into the 2024 season.

Grayson Rodriguez's new pitch has him poised to break out in 2024

While adding a two-seamer won't necessarily be a primary weapon to alleviate his issues against lefty hitters, it is just another option to keep hitters off balance and keep them guessing. While Rodriguez throws his fastball plenty hard enough, big league hitters feasting on his four-seam fastball last season, as they hit .342 and slugged .535 against the pitch in 2023. When a guy throws a pitch with those peripherals almost half the time, it is inviting trouble.

By adding a two-seamer at a different velocity, hitters won't be able to sit on his four-seam fastball anymore, which should lead to Rodriguez throwing his four-seamer less often. Any time a pitcher can mess with a hitter's timing and change speeds, good things are likely to come. In his first spring training start, Rodriguez threw his new fastball a good bit and seemed to be pleased with the results.

Given Rodriguez's talent level, Orioles fans should have already expected more out of him in 2024 than he gave last season. However, with a new pitch set to be unleashed on the league this season, he could be poised to truly break out and approach his lofty ceiling on the mound this coming year.

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