With Opening Day just days 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.
Hyun Soo Kim
RP Oliver Drake
Opening Day age: 30
Contract status: Under club control through the 2022 season
2016 stats: 1-0, 4.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 2 HR, 18 innings
Why to be impressed: The right-hander has averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over 33 2/3 career innings in the majors, showing that his splitter can play nicely at this level. He’s also held left-handed hitters to a .160 average and a .603 on-base plus slugging percentage, another sign that he’s capable of contributing in a major league bullpen.
Why to be concerned: Entering spring training out of minor-league options and needing to earn a spot on the 25-man roster, Drake posted an 8.78 ERA in 13 1/3 innings in the Grapefruit League. He has also struggled with his control at the major league level, averaging 4.3 walks per nine innings in various stints over the last two seasons.
2017 outlook: The Orioles will start the season carrying Drake on the 25-man roster, but you have to wonder how long he’ll be in Baltimore with room needing to be made for fourth starter Wade Miley and the No. 5 starter in the near future. Unless he really excels with his early opportunities, the longtime farmhand will likely be exposed to waivers in an attempt to outright him to Triple-A Norfolk.
2017 not-so-scientific projections: 0-1, 4.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 2 HR, 14 innings