The "other" Orioles castaway delivering for the Mets this season

Jorge Lopez hasn't been remarkable but he's getting results.
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game One
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game One / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

Two of the better New York Mets player stories of the last few months are the sudden success of DJ Stewart and Reed Garrett. The Mets rarely find these hidden gems from other teams. We’re going to enjoy however long we can see them play well even if it all comes crashing down eventually.

The unique shared quality about these two is they came over from the Baltimore Orioles. Stewart was a free agent signing from back in November of 2022. Garrett was picked up last summer off of waivers from the Orioles. Seen as nothing more than depth moves at the time, they’ve each become much more. With juicy minor league options remaining as well, there is room for them to struggle and figure things out, too.

They aren’t the only ex-Orioles performing well this season. An addition to the Mets with much higher expectations albeit reason to believe he wouldn’t reach them, reliever Jorge Lopez has been fantastic out of the bullpen. A guy whose career ERA may never get below 5.00, he seems to have figured a few things out early on in 2024 as a member of the Mets.

Jorge Lopez is another Orioles cast-off having some early success with the Mets

Lopez had that one half-season with the Orioles in 2022 which made him an All-Star and helped Baltimore load up on some prospects when they traded him to the Minnesota Twins. Almost immediately a regrettable trade by the Twins, he saw his ERA jump from 1.68 to 4.37 in those final 23 games he pitched.

Lopez was even worse for the Twins in 2023 and would find himself struggling with the Miami Marlins later on and finishing off with the Orioles. Combined with the three teams, Lopez had a 5.95 ERA in 59 innings of work.

Even at $2 million, it seemed like a futile effort to try rectifying his career. Never a high strikeout pitcher outside of the early All-Star bid in 2022, what was there to even like about this flounder reliever?

Lopez is proving doubters wrong early with a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 appearances. As expected, he’s not doing it with a bunch of Ks either. Just 9 of them so far, Lopez is pitching clean innings thanks to fly outs.

The groundball pitcher tends to be favored in comparison to someone who has batters hitting the ball high in the air. At least early on, it hasn’t hurt Lopez. He has yet to surrender a home run despite the 31.1% fly ball rate. Maybe more important is how few line drives are getting hit against him. This rate of 18.8% is even lower than the 19% he had with the Orioles in 2022.

One final big helper: an average exit velocity of 84.2mph is at a career-best. Players are making contact against Lopez. They’re just not on a bullet train.

Don’t buy into Jorge Lopez just yet

Before buying into Lopez, it’s worth noting how good he was in the first month of 2023. In 12 innings he allowed just 6 hits and 1 unearned run to go with 10 strikeouts. The wheels came off in May and June with a run per inning allowed. He was even worse by the time he got to August.

Sustained success hasn’t been something Lopez has been able to achieve even in his All-Star season. Some slow starts from hitters around the league could be the easy explanation as to how he has been so good. Let’s hope it’s much more than that.

There is a reason why strikeout pitchers thrive in this game and remain desirable. When teams put the ball in play, bad things can happen for the pitcher.