They traded him, won several prospects in the deal, and gave the closer role that Lopez previously held to Felix Bautista.
They had also worked a lot with Bautista, and he, like Lopez, enjoyed a breakthrough performance this year.
Bautista averaged 99 mph on his four-seam fastball this year.
He also throws a slider and a cutter, not to mention what is probably his nastiest pitch: the splitter.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) November 15, 2022
Just look at that: when it comes out of the pitcher’s hand, it seems aimed at the top of the zone, where his triple-digit fastball is usually aimed.
However, hitters have their souls taken away from them when they see that just before reaching the plate, the pitch tumbles, like it drops from a table.
Bautista’s Splitter Is The Nastiest Thing You Will See Today
That’s Bautista’s splitter, if you didn’t know it.
It’s a legitimate weapon that helped him strike out 88 hitters in 65.2 innings for the O’s this season.
The strides the Orioles have made in player development have made sure they have a shutdown reliever under cheap team control for five more years.
Bautista is 27, so he is not exactly a hot prospect, but seems to have the goods to dominate for at least several more years.
He did just that in 2022, earning a quality 2.19 ERA and a 2.92 FIP in those 65.2 frames.
He gave Orioles fans plenty of joy, but given the amount of quality prospects and young players in Baltimore, we can say the best is yet to come.
He has morphed into one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, plain and simple.