The Orioles have announced that right-handed pitcher Félix Bautista has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to left knee discomfort, retroactive to October 1. Fellow righty Yennier Cano was recalled in a corresponding move. Earlier today, manager Brandon Hyde had relayed to reporters that Bautista would be shut down, with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com among those to relay the news.
The fact that Bautista is being shut down is fairly sensible. His knee has been bothering him for a few days now, but the club kept him around as they clung to their diminishing postseason aspirations. With the Orioles officially eliminated over the weekend, it makes sense to let Bautista go into offseason mode as opposed to potentially making his knee worse as they play out the string.
In the end, it will go down as a tremendous debut campaign for the hulking right-hander, a season that felt like it came out of nowhere. Bautista actually began his career in the Marlins’ organization but was released in January of 2015 after posting a 12.41 ERA in rookie ball in 2014. He was signed by the Orioles to a new deal in October of 2016 and has been working his way up the minor league ladder since then.
As he made his way towards the majors, he often paired huge strikeout numbers with troubling walk totals. That was still the case last year, as he threw 46 2/3 innings across three different levels, posting a 1.54 ERA and 39.7% strikeout rate despite walking 15.5% of batters faced. Though the signs of potential were there, Bautista never cracked Baseball America’s list of top 30 prospects in the system. FanGraphs listed him in the past three years, but always in the #30-45 range.
Still, Baltimore believed in the stuff enough that they added him to the roster in November of last year to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, which ended up being canceled by the lockout. Bautista took a huge step forward here in 2022, cracking the club’s Opening Day roster and almost immediately cementing himself as a lockdown reliever. He threw 65 2/3 innings over 65 games with a 2.19 ERA and 34.8% strikeout rate. He even showed improved control, limiting walks to a manageable 9.1% rate. He moved his way up the leverage chart for the O’s as the season went on, notching 15 saves and 13 holds.
Though his season ends with a bit of a down note, he and the club will look forward to 2023. After years of dismal results, Baltimore has posted a solid 82-77 record here in 2022 so far, their first winning season since 2016. Bautista was one of many rookies to debut and show promise this year, with Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and others giving the fanbase something to dream on throughout the winter. Bautista will finish the season with exactly one year of MLB service time, meaning he won’t be slated to qualify for arbitration until after 2024 and free agency after 2027.