Whenever Orioles reliever Joey Krahbel passes by a teammate while finishing an interview, he asks – with the perfect mix of sincerity and sarcasm – if they’ve mentioned his name. When reporters surrounded Jordan Lyles’ locker in Baltimore’s clubhouse on Wednesday minutes after he threw a complete game, the 31-year-old right-hander yelled, “Joey Krahbel!”
It was another case of him picking up a member of the Orioles’ bullpen.
The lone veteran on Baltimore’s pitching staff, Lyles has served as an example to his inexperienced members. Wednesday night’s nine-inning performance The latest served as a showcase against the Detroit Tigers.
“He’s basically our leader,” rookie starter Kyle Bradish said. “We call him Dad. It’s a running joke that even though he’s not as old as us, he’s got the experience.
Lyles entered this season with just over 10 years of major league service time, more than double that of every other current member of the Orioles’ rotation. That status alone has earned him respect in Baltimore’s clubhouse, but the way he’s performed on the mound has also impressed his teammates.
He hasn’t been a tremendously dominant pitcher, but his 170 innings are the most by an Oriole in manager Brandon Hyde’s four seasons. After Wednesday’s one-run outing, his ERA is a paltry 4.50, an exact match for the base-standard start result of three earned runs in six innings. Including Wednesday, his 12 quality starts are more than double that of any other Baltimore pitcher this season and is tied with Jon Manz for the most in a Hyde-led campaign.
Lyles said earlier this season that he wanted to pitch deep in games “for the guys,” meaning his fellow pitchers and especially in the bullpen, many of whom had gone through a full major league season for the first time. have been.
“He wants to put us in the best possible situation,” Krahbel said. “He wants to give everything he can. Whether it’s 80 pitches or 115 pitches, he never wants to come out until he’s taken out.
Wednesday’s start-ending outing could be his final home start for the Orioles. With the way his schedule lines up over the next two weeks, Lyles won’t pitch at Camden Yards again this season unless Hyde unexpectedly deploys him on a short or extra reset. His free-agent deal with Baltimore last season included just one guaranteed year, including an $11 million team option with a $1 million buyout for 2023.
Bradish, Tyler Wells, Dan Kramer and Austin Voth have all had success as Baltimore’s starters this year, and each could have a chance to build on next season. Means, expected to pair with Lyles to form the leadoff tandem in the Orioles’ rotation, made just two starts before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery but is expected to return as early as 2023. The latter, working out of the bullpen at Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore, could each compete for a spring training start.
With the added possibility of the Orioles expanding their rotation through free agency and trade, it’s fair to wonder how much room there might be for Lyles next season. But it has had a lasting impact regardless.
“When he’s out there, there’s nothing that really fazes him,” Kramer said. “He can give up two in the first, and then he can save his walk and go seven. Last year, if I gave up two runs in the first, I’d be out on third, so he Just seeing a couple of hits or walks or whatever made it easy for me to be like, ‘OK, I can do it.'”
Dad jokes aside — for Father’s Day, other Orioles starters got Lyles a “no” with shirts emblazoned with Lyles’ face and the words “Best Dad Ever.” 1 Dead” top — Lyles isn’t much older than his fellow pitchers. Hall is Baltimore’s only active wing under the age of 26. But his time in the majors has made him a resource, “someone who’s always there to have all the answers,” as Krahbel put it.
In many ways, reliever Keegan Akin said, Lyles is an exemplary role model, appearing in 12 big-league seasons without top-tier velocity. He’s left just one turn in Baltimore’s rotation this season, a stomach bug that flared up at times, costing him an outing against the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this week. Of the top five Orioles starters this year, only Lyles has avoided the injured list.
“She’s just a perfect example of what we all want to be at some point,” Akin said. “Whether you get two days on the show or 10 years, he treats everyone the same.”
Consistency is appreciated on the mound as much as it is off it. Many Orioles pitchers noted how well Lyles handled the day after a bad outing.
“You know what you’re going to get out of it,” reliever Brian Baker said. “That’s what everybody is chasing in this sport.”
As much as they learn by watching Lyles work, his colleagues note how open he is about a variety of topics. He is not a vocal leader, but he is happy to answer any questions brought to him. Lyles said open communication is more important than any other aspect of this dynamic.
Wells joked that he was “his own little shadow” of Lyles, who constantly quizzed him about baseball and life. Questions focused on the former often come back to the concept of simplifying the game, avoiding the overthinking that can plague a young pitcher. Wells said he hopes to share a rotation with Lyles again next season.
“I love Jordan,” Wells said. “He’s just a good guy to be around. Whether those words aren’t said or a lot of words are said, you just know you’re in good company, and I think that’s what he’s done for our pitchers. This year has played a huge role.”
And like a father, Lyles has been proud to watch them grow.
“I’m glad they were able to see it tonight, to put something in their minds,” Lyles said of his outing. “The role of leadership, it’s just an open dialogue. They can come to me with anything. I can ask them questions, and at the end of the day, it’s all about being comfortable that they can talk to me. , and that’s all I wanted.
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