Orioles should consider these three relievers to replace Craig Kimbrel as closer

The Orioles may be forced to make a change at closer. Could these three internal options fit the bill?
Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

Craig Kimbrel was signed this offseason as a stopgap closing option while Felix Bautista recovers from Tommy John surgery. After a solid start to the season, Kimbrel has hit a wall, with his play taking a sharp decline. The Orioles may need to take a hard look at some other closing options, and these three O's could be worth giving a try.

Albert Suarez could make sense as the next Orioles closer

Albert Suarez has been one of the biggest surprises for the Orioles this season. After flashing his stuff in spring training, Suarez was promoted to the major league roster on April 17. He was given the start after Tyler Wells was placed on the IL, and he has earned a spot on the roster ever since.

Suarez made three starts for the O's before being moved to the bullpen. He pitched well, but the returns of both John Means and Kyle Bradish to the rotation forced the Orioles' hand. Suarez was then moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched pretty well. He's pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one earned run, one hit, and one walk.

Suarez may not seem like the ideal closing option, but the O's have had success with players like Suarez in the past. Fellow Birds Watcher contributor Cameron McGuire mentioned that Suarez could be the next Jorge Lopez for the O's.

Jorge Lopez made the All-Star team in 2022 as the closer of the Orioles. Lopez was a starter who transitioned to the bullpen after struggling in the rotation. Lopez always had great stuff, but the results never showed until he became a full-time reliever.

Since the rotation is jam-packed with productive starters at the moment (and also expecting to add Grayson Rodriguez back into the mix soon), Suarez will continue to work from the pen. Similarly to Lopez, Suarez has a hard fastball that features an astounding 37.4% whiff rate. He also has a great cutter that has allowed just a .143 opponents' batting average this season

Suarez has some really great advanced numbers that back up his strong start to the season. He fills up the strike zone and gets a lot of swings and misses. It wouldn't shock me if Brandon Hyde started trusting the veteran to get him some outs in the ninth inning.

Keegan Akin could also make a case for the Orioles' closer spot

Similarly to Albert Suarez, Keegan Akin has some fantastic advanced numbers to begin the season. His expected numbers have been towards the top of the league; he currently ranks in the top 20 for both expected ERA and expected batting average.

A huge part of Akin's success has been his ability to get strikeouts and induce weak contact. Akin sits in the 95th percentile in average exit velocity, while also featuring a strikeout rate of over 30%.

Akin has been extremely solid this season, and although he doesn't throw exceptionally hard, his stuff is certainly good enough to close games for the Orioles. The only question is if Brandon Hyde would be willing to take him out of his current role as a lefty specialist.

Jacob Webb is an underrated closing option for the Orioles

Jacob Webb has gotten off to a fantastic start this season. He's been arguably the best Orioles reliever so far. He's thrown 16.1 innings this season with an ERA of just 1.65. He's struck out a career high 11.02 batters per nine innings this season, getting a lot of swings and misses inside the strike zone.

Although Webb is towards the bottom of the league in chase rate, he's still getting swings and misses consistently. He's sitting in the 88th percentile in whiff percentage. A big part of this can be attributed to his changeup, which has been stellar this season. Webb has currently allowed just two hits on his changeup, while batters are swinging and missing over 37% of the time.

Jacob Webb, Adley Rutschman
Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

Webb has recorded two big saves recently, one against the Yankees and one Wednesday night against the Nationals in extras. With his ability to get swings and misses and limit base runners (15 base runners in 16.1 innings), Webb could be a viable closing option for Hyde.

Although Brandon Hyde said they are going to stick with Kimbrel at closer, another bad outing from him could lead to a change. Look for these three relievers to be in the mix if that time comes.