HomeTrending MLB NewsInjured Orioles starting pitcher to take big step in return to mound

Injured Orioles starting pitcher to take big step in return to mound

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The Orioles announced that Kyle Bradish has joined the squad at High-A Aberdeen and will begin a rehab assignment soon, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. He’s been on the 15-day injured list since the beginning of the season.

The news is surely pleasant for fans of the O’s, especially considering where things stood just a couple of months ago. Back in the middle of February, Bradish was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Since that is the ligament that is repaired in Tommy John surgery, many began to fret that Bradish would need to go under the knife and miss the entire 2024 season and perhaps even part of 2025 as well.

Instead, Bradish received a platelet-rich plasma injection and began a throwing program. Just a few weeks after the initial diagnosis of the sprain, general manager Mike Elias relayed that subsequent MRIs had shown “accelerated healing” of the ligament. The fact that he’s now set to embark on a rehab assignment suggests that things have continued to progress in a positive direction.

The Orioles went into the offseason with a strong roster, but the rotation was clearly a relatively weaker part of it. They did make a huge trade to acquire Corbin Burnes but the group still felt a bit lackluster, especially since the O’s could have done more. With a farm system that’s considered by some to be the best in the league and almost no future payroll commitments, they could have done more trading or made a splash in free agency. The latter scenario was especially open to the O’s as starting pitchers languished on the open market well after Bradish’s injury diagnosis, including big names like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery or even back-of-the-rotation types like Michael Lorenzen.

The injury to Bradish and the continued absence of John Means left Baltimore with a rotation of Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin to open the year. Last year, Irvin had a 4.81 ERA as a starter and got moved to the bullpen frequently. Wells had a 3.64 ERA last year but with an unsustainable .200 batting average on balls in play and 82.6% strand rate, which is why his 4.98 FIP and 4.19 SIERA weren’t as impressive.

With Bradish now on the mend, that group will be bolstered in a few weeks, assuming everything goes smooth with the rehab. Bradish had a 2.98 ERA last year over his 30 starts. He combined a 25% strikeout rate with a 6.6% walk rate and 49.2% ground ball rate, with all three of those being a few ticks better than league average. The O’s have not moved him to the 60-day IL, so he’ll be eligible to be activated as soon as he’s healthy.

If Bradish returns and the other arms in the rotation are also healthy, the club will have to make a decision about who to bump out. Irvin is out of options, but he could perhaps move to a long relief role in the bullpen if he’s the one squeezed out of the rotation.

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