If there was a player that represented the Orioles’ rebuild Wednesday night, it was Dean Kremer.
For the first three starts of Kremer’s major league career, he threw 16 innings and allowed just three runs (one in each start). His starts were incredibly promising, as the 24-year-old showed major league-quality stuff.
Wednesday at Fenway Park, his last outing of the season was his worst.
He allowed seven runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts. The Red Sox jumped out to a big lead en route to a 9-1 win. There’s certainly promise for Kremer, but there’s still much to improve as well.
“I think I just left too many balls deeper in counts, center-cut,” Kremer said bluntly. “And they got hit.”
Kremer’s outing, however, was simply a rainy day in an otherwise month full of promise.
In his 16 innings prior to Wednesday, he faced the Yankees twice and the Rays once, and struck out 20 batters with an ERA of 1.69. He walked three batters in each outing and allowed just eight total hits.
That’s the silver lining of Wednesday’s outing, though. It appeared to be the exception, not the norm.
“I thought he gave up some ground ball singles,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just think he had a tough time putting guys away tonight. Fastball velo was a little bit down, I thought they were on a lot of his pitches. Missed in the middle a few times...he wasn’t as sharp tonight as he had been.”
Kremer’s rough outing was simply a sour note to the end of a promising season for the young right-hander. The same can be said of the rest of the pitching staff.
Keegan Akin also made his major league debut this year and threw in seven games, five of which were starts. The 25-year-old has an ERA of 3.57 and has allowed 22 hits in 22 2/3 innings with 31 strikeouts and just one home run allowed.
John Means, who is still just 27, had a rough start to the season with an injury that kept him from making his Opening Day start. His father later sadly passed away, which took Means away from the team for even more time.
In his last three starts of the season, though, Means threw 17 ⅔ innings and allowed just 11 hits and three earned runs. His most recent performance against the Rays on Sept. 20 ended with 12 strikeouts and zero walks.
The Orioles’ rotation was the worst in the sport in 2019. This season was, in many ways, an improvement. And yes, there were nights like Wednesday when nothing went right. But the important part was these nights were outliers for some of the pitchers most important to the rebuild.
“I’m excited about Dean,” Hyde said. “I think Dean has got big upside. Keegan also, (Bruce Zimmerman). I think these guys have big upside and this has been a valuable experience this year for them in getting a few starts under their belt and looking forward for next year. I think that they’re going to take this with them into the next Spring Training. Now they’ve gotten a taste of the big leagues.”
And as the Orioles’ rotation of the future takes shape in the coming years, Kremer, Akin and Means have certainly staked their claim to be part of it moving forward.
“I’m pretty happy with the way it went,” Kremer said of his season. “I got to face some of the best lineups in the game. Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. Some of the most storied franchises. I’m pretty happy with the way it came out and I’m excited for next year.”