4: Jorge Lopez – Baltimore Orioles
Prior to 2022, Jorge Lopez had been, for the most part, a starting pitcher, something that he wasn’t very good at. As of 2022 though, Lopez has been moved to the bullpen, a role that, as it turns out, Lopez is very good at. From his MLB debut in 2015 with the Brewers through 2021, Lopez has amassed a career 6.04 ERA over 350 innings pitched. He consistently struggled to limit hard contact, allowed far too many balls to be put in play, and rarely found himself having quality outings. Now that he’s in the bullpen though, those issues seem like a distant memory.
Through 42.1 innings pitched in 2022, Lopez has put up a 1.70 ERA with a sub-1 WHIP and has converted on 17 of his 21 save attempts. Unlike Bard, Lopez’s peripherals don’t necessarily reflect an elite pitcher, with most of his baseball savant metrics generally sitting in the high 70s and low 80s, his raw stats show just how effective he has truly been.
His sinker averages around 98 mph and has been great at both producing whiffs and ground balls. His pitch mix also features a curveball, changeup, and slider, which have all been very effective this season, as well as an occasional fastball, which he should probably stay away from given the fact that it has produced a 1.234 xSLG this year. Surprisingly, all three of Lopez’s main secondary pitches have below-average spin, despite still producing excellent whiff and put-away rates.
The big question with Lopez is whether the Blue Jays could actually get him. Despite being in the same division as the Orioles, a few weeks ago this would’ve seemed very attainable. Things have not gone Toronto’s way recently though, and all of the sudden the Orioles are nipping at their heels, making any trade more and more unlikely. To be able to get Lopez, who’s under club control through 2024, the Blue Jays would have to hope that they pick things up and that the O’s fall back down to earth. If that happens, they certainly have the pieces to acquire him, it just depends on how the standings look and whether the Orioles will deal within the division come the deadline.