Last night, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported that the Orioles are "focused on pitching upgrades" before Tuesday's Trade Deadline. The Orioles have already acquired relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami from the Athletics, but will presumably be looking to bolster their rotation and bullpen even further. Morosi mentioned Michael Lorenzen as a potential target for the Orioles in his report.
Orioles interested in trading for starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen
Lorenzen is in the midst of a career year with the Tigers, which led to his first career All-Star game appearance. In 18 starts this season, Lorenzen has pitched to a 3.58 ERA and has tallied 105.2 innings pitched. He's been one of the few bright spots on a struggling Tigers team that looks to be selling at the deadline once again.
A deeper dive into the numbers
As previously mentioned, Lorenzen is having a very solid season. Lorenzen has 7 pitches in his arsenal, but normally sticks with his 4-seam fastball, slider, changeup, sinker, and sweeper. His fastball and changeup are easily his best pitches, often inducing weak contact and some swings and misses.
His fastball has held opponents to just a .178 batting average and .262 slugging percentage, while sitting at around 94 miles per hour. It's an above average fastball in terms of velocity, sitting in the top 60th percentile. His changeup pairs well with the fastball, holding hitters to just a .169 batting average and .369 slugging percentage. It's been his big swing and miss pitch this season with a whiff rate of almost 32 percent.
Although most of the surface level numbers are strong for Lorenzen, his advanced numbers are less than impressive. He sits in just the 27th percentile in K%, which has led to some unfavorable batted ball numbers. He's in the 41st percentile in Hard Hit %, 38th percentile in xBA, and just the 24th percentile in average exit velocity. But, he combats these issues by limiting baserunners with a WHIP of just 1.10 and he sits in the 77th percentile in BB%.
Does he make sense for the Orioles?
Although Lorenzen wouldn't be the flashiest acquisition, he would be a much needed addition to the Orioles starting rotation. Pitching is the name of the game when the playoffs come around and the Orioles would be smart to grab another starter to take pressure off of their bullpen (which has been used far too often). Lorenzen has averaged more innings pitched per start then every Orioles starter except for Tyler Wells this season. So, he would provide another potential starter who could give the Orioles some length to rest the pen.
Another interesting note regarding Lorenzen is his past experience as a relief pitcher. Although the Orioles would certainly be acquiring Lorenzen to fill a rotation spot, he does have a lot of experience out of the bullpen. 2019 was his best season as a reliever as he finished the season with a 2.92 ERA in 73 appearances. He also struck out 85 batters in 83.1 innings of work and featured a WHIP of 1.15. This is important to note because the Orioles desperately need middle relief help, so Lorenzen is a player who has the versatility to move to the bullpen if necessary.
With the starting pitching being a question mark all season and with Tyler Wells' recent struggles, Lorenzen would present a solid and most likely cheap trade option for the Orioles. Mike Elias hasn't shown the desire to make blockbuster moves during his tenure with the Orioles, so a player like Lorenzen seems very possible.