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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Nick Vespi Will Be Back

Southpaw optioned, but a return to the majors is inevitable

*Cover Photo Credit: John Topoleski

Do not expect Nick Vespi to be in the Minor Leagues forever.

Yesterday, the Orioles optioned the 28-year-old southpaw to Triple-A Norfolk, where he will start the 2024 campaign. I highly doubt he ends the season there, and manager Brandon Hyde feels the same about Vespi. Even with the demotion, the Minor League journeyman left a great impression on the Orioles skipper.

“I thought Nick had a great camp,” Hyde said according to Rich Dubroff on Baltimore Baseball. “He threw the ball really well for us. We're trimming the camp down, and we'fre feeling good about him being a depth option for us in Triple-A. He's done some good hings for us in the last couple of years, and pitched really well in Triple-A. It's a numbers game right now. We expect to see him sometime in Batimore.

For now, Vespi will have to continue to dominate Minor League hitting like he has done his entire MiLB career. He debuted way back in 2015 as an 18th rounder from Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. In eight Minor League seasons, he has posted a 3.48 ERA with a 1.079 WHIP and 431 strikeouts in 387.1 Minor League innings. He had a phenomenal 2023 season with the Tides, posting a 2.33 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

Vespi was most notably the pitcher on the mound for the Tides who recorded the final out of the International League clincher, thus sending them to the Triple-A championship game.

When you look at his big league stat line, he has not been entirely terrible with the Orioles. The Floridian has had two separate stints in the majors, one in 2022 and another last season. He has a 4.17 ERA in 41 big league innings, striking out 37, walking just 10, and posting a 1.341 WHIP.

Vespi has been around a while, he had been knocking on the doors of Camden Yards for quite some time, and he technically still is.

Nick Vespi is looking to get another chance out of the Orioles' bullpen later on in 2024. Photo: John Topoleski

There was excitement around the possibility of Vespi joining the Orioles’ bullpen full time this season, and his early performances in Spring Training helped his case. In his first 7 inning, he struck out 9 batters and allowed just 2 runs without walking a batter or surrendering a home run. Then, came Tuesday. He tossed 1.1 innings against Toronto and allowed 3 runs, two of them coming from a Dalton Varsho 2-run home run. He also walked his first batter of the spring.

Hyde said that it is a numbers game and as Vespi’s ERA rose to an alarming 5.40 after his rough outing against the Blue Jays, perhaps that impacted the Orioles’ decision to option him.

Even after that rough outing, he still technically had a great Spring Training. It was just one

unlucky swing and one rough outing. He still posted a 0.960 WHIP in 8.1 innings with 12 swings and misses (13 K/9). He also posted a 2-0 record, thus indicating how clutch he can be in the late innings.

Vespi is capable of working out of a big league bullpen. Forget Tuesday’s outing; he has proven that he can do it with the best of them. I do not know how much more time he needs mowing down Triple-A hitters to prove that. Hyde is right; expect Vespi to return to Baltimore.

Expect Vespi to be given more chances at the big league level, more chances to get the Orioles out of big jams late in the game and give them a chance offensively. We have all seen glimpses of Vespi’s potential at the Major Leagues in recent years, and he has done very well in big situations such as his MLB debut in 2022. The Orioles always need left-handed arms especially out of the bullpen, and I know Vespi will be right there ready to go when he gets the call to come back.

At the same time, do not be alarmed. If you are excited about Nick Vespi just like I am, then we can all agree that Vespi will not remain a Minor Leaguer much longer or forever.

Relax. He will be fine. Nick Vespi will return and next time, for good.

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