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Baltimore Orioles

Oriole of the Day: Hit hardest of any pitcher, Dean Kremer has chance to get back up in 2022

Orioles pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Sarasota, Florida, for the start of spring training within the week, but as long as the owners’ lockout of players continues, that won’t happen.

Under a lockout put in place by the owners after the expiration of the previous collective bargaining agreement, players on teams’ 40-man rosters are unable to participate in club activities. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Thursday that the plan remains for spring training to begin on time, but as of the most recent negotiations between the league and players’ union to construct a new CBA, the sides were far apart. A delay of the 2022 regular season is certainly possible.

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In the meantime, The Baltimore Sun will continue to evaluate each member of the Orioles’ 40-man roster, looking back on their 2021 seasons and looking ahead to a 2022 campaign that hopefully begins not too long from now.

Coming off a successful cup of coffee in 2020, Dean Kremer never found his stride. Following a particularly poor start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Kremer was sent to the minors, where his troubles continued. He made only one major league appearance in the second half.

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Quick hits

2022 Opening Day age: 26

2021 stats: 7.55 ERA, 53 ⅔ innings, 47 strikeouts, 1.640 WHIP, 19.2 K%, 10.2 BB%, minus-0.3 fWAR with the Orioles; 4.91 ERA, 62 ⅓ innings, 69 strikeouts, 1.299 WHIP, 25.6 K%, 7.4 BB% with Triple-A Norfolk

Under team control through: 2027

2021 in review

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Number to know: 9.8. More than 350 pitchers faced at least 200 batters in 2021. Among them, Kremer had the highest percentage of the plate appearances against him result in a “barrel,” a Statcast term that describes quality of contact most likely to produce damage. Essentially, balls in play off Kremer were regularly hit hard and in the air; he had the highest average exit velocity allowed among the 300-plus pitchers with at least 150 balls in play against them, according to Statcast.

What was good: Demoted to the minors for an “extended” stay, Kremer posted a 7.76 ERA in his first seven outings with Norfolk. But he showed improvement in his last nine Triple-A appearances with a 3.03 ERA while striking out four times as many batters as he walked, by far his best stretch of the year. Notably, he went more than four innings in only one of those outings.

What wasn’t: Kremer led all of the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2018, the year in which he was traded to Baltimore from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the package for Manny Machado. But in the majors, Kremer struggled to replicate that. Among starters who pitched at least 50 innings, Kremer had the fourth-lowest chase rate — the percentage of pitches out of the strike zone that batters swung at — per FanGraphs. When opposing hitters did swing against Kremer, they generally made contact; of 333 pitchers who induced at least 400 swings, Kremer ranked 297th in whiff rate, according to Statcast.

Looking ahead to 2022

Likely 2022 role: Rotation and long-relief option.

What’s projected: One thing that separates Kremer from the rest of the Orioles’ inexperienced rotation options who will contend for starting spots come spring training is that he has yet to be asked to pitch in relief in the major leagues. Manager Brandon Hyde has been adamant that Kremer has a starter’s repertoire, and Steamer and ZiPS both project he’ll be deployed as one if in the majors. Both systems forecast improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and ERA in 2022, though the projected tallies in those areas would still not be particularly impressive.

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A step forward: Kremer might have a starter’s pitch mix, but he didn’t necessarily use it in 2021, becoming somewhat fastball-heavy. After throwing his four-seamer less than 40% of the time in his 2020 stint, he used it for about 56% of his 2021 offerings. Including his cutter — his most effective pitch this past season — more than three-quarters of his pitches were fastballs. In his one September start in the majors, 54 of his 66 pitches, about 82%, were one of the fastballs. Kremer’s success in his climb up the minors largely came on the back of his fastball-curveball combination, and getting the latter pitch going again could go a long way toward a return to form in the majors.

Three up, three down

This series is ordered based on the WAR, as measured by FanGraphs, each member of Baltimore’s 40-man roster produced in 2021. The past three players featured in the series were Bryan Baker, Alexander Wells and Mike Baumann. The Orioles due up next are Ryan McKenna, Cionel Pérez and Kelvin Gutiérrez.


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