With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
SP/RP Mike Wright
Opening Day age: 27
Contract status: Under club control through the 2021 season
2016 stats: 3-4, 5.79 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 12 HR, 74 2/3 innings
Why to be impressed: Despite splitting the season between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk, Wright improved his ERA, strikeout rate, walk rate, and homer rate from 2015, which is what you hope to see from a young pitcher trying to stick in the majors. His 5.30 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark still doesn’t scream starter, but it was substantial improvement from his 6.13 FIP as a rookie.
Why to be concerned: Wright’s average fastball velocity of 93.5 miles per hour shows he has a lively arm, but his lack of effective secondary pitches continues to hold him back at the major league level. Lefty bats posted a .345 average and .990 on-base plus slugging percentage against Wright last season, another sign that he’s destined for a relief role if he’s going to stick in the majors.
2017 outlook: Wright has found some early spring success with increased use of his two-seam fastball, but he could start the year as a starter for Norfolk. Of course, the 27-year-old is on the short list of long-relief options and could receive some starts if any members of the projected Baltimore rotation falter, making him a good bet to pitch some meaningful innings at some point in 2017.
2017 not-so-scientific projections: 2-4, 5.21 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7 HR, 52 innings