2016 Orioles preview: Oliver Drake

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With Opening Day just over two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
March 14 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 15 – Mark Trumbo
March 16 – Darren O’Day
March 18 – Pedro Alvarez

RP Oliver Drake

Age: 29

Contract status: Under club control through at least the 2021 season

2015 stats: 0-0, 2.87 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 9.8 K/IP, 5.2 BB/IP, 1 HR, 15 2/3 innings

Why to be impressed: The Naval Academy product was one of the feel-good stories of 2015 as he made his major league debut after eight years in the Baltimore system and a shoulder injury that threatened to derail his career. His split-fingered fastball has been the difference as he averaged 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings at Triple-A Norfolk and posted good strikeout totals with the Orioles.

Why to be concerned: Drake’s splitter can make him effective against lefties, but right-handed bats posted a .324 average against him in the majors and he lacks a consistent breaking pitch to combat them. He had his control issues at the major league level, making you wonder if that’s more a product of nerves and a small sample size or a sign that disciplined hitters in the majors will lay off his best pitch.

2016 outlook: Dylan Bundy being out of options will make it all but certain that Drake starts the year at Triple-A Norfolk, but he figures to be one of the first relievers on call should the Orioles need a fresh arm. His long-term prognosis in the majors could be limited without use of another breaking pitch, but he has the talent to be effective in short spurts whenever the Orioles might call on him in 2016.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: 1-1, 3.83 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 8.8 K/IP, 3.9 BB/IP, 3 HR, 26 innings

 

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