2022 Fantasy Baseball: Baltimore Orioles Team Outlook

Player profiles, stats and analysis for Baltimore Orioles hitters and pitchers.

Shawn Childs – as published on SI.

The Orioles have been the cellar dwellers in the AL East over their last four full seasons (fourth over a 60-game schedule in 2020 with a 25-35 record). They won 54 games or fewer in 2018 (47-115), 2019 (54-108) and 2021 (52-110). Baltimore finished a combined 158 games out of first place over these three seasons.

Last year, they finished last in the majors in ERA (5.84), which was more than a run-and-a-half higher than the league average. In essence, the Orioles pitching staff gave up two-plus runs a game to the Rays (3.67 ERA) and Yankees (3.74 ERA). In addition, Baltimore allowed the most home runs (258) in baseball.

Their offense finished 26th in runs scored (659) with 195 home runs (17th) and 54 stolen bases (25th). On the positive side, the age of their average batter came in at 26.7 (youngest offensive team in the majors).

The Orioles signed 2B Rougned Odor, C Jacob Nottingham, C Anthony Bemboom and SP Jordan Lyles in the offseason. The best player lost to free agency was 3B Maikel Franco, who signed with the Nationals.

Baltimore has two elite prospects (C Adley Rutschman and SP Grayson Rodriguez) in their farm system. Both players had success at AA in 2021, pointing to their major league debuts coming sometime after May.

Shortstop and third base have questionable options in the middle of January, but the Orioles may upgrade those positions via free agency after the lockout ends. The foundation of Baltimore’s offense is built around 1B Ryan Mountcastle, OF Trey Mancini, OF Cedric Mullins and OF Austin Hays.

The starting rotation has one pitcher (John Means) of value. Many of their pitching prospects gained some major league experience in 2021, but no arm appeared ready to handle an entire season of starts in the majors. Without improvement in the foundation of their starting staff, the Orioles can’t make a run at even the .500 mark.

Baltimore’s bullpen also had the worst ERA (5.70) in baseball while earning 28 wins, 34 losses and 26 saves. They allowed 109 home runs over 666.2 innings with 296 walks and 637 strikeouts. Every role in this bullpen will be in flux again in 2022.

Starting Lineup

OF Cedric Mullins

Mullins helped many fantasy owners win league titles in his first full season with Baltimore. He outperformed his five-year minor league resume (.265 over 2,013 at-bats with 318 runs, 51 home runs, 213 RBI and 110 stolen bases) by a wide margin in batting average (.291) and home runs (30). Before 2021, Mullins never hit more than 14 home runs in any season in the minors. His walk rate (8.7) fell in line with his success in the minors in 2019 (8.9). He lowered his strikeout rate to 18.5%, but it still came in higher than his minor league career (15.2). Mullins had a similar batting average at home (.294) and on the road (.287) while delivering 22 of his 30 home runs in Baltimore. His swing path came in balanced while setting a new top in his HR/FB rate (15.5). He appeared to square up more balls compared to a high number of infield flyouts over 204 at-bats with the Orioles in 2019 and 2020.

Fantasy Outlook

This draft season, Mullins has an early ADP of 29, making him a much more challenging player to roster. I respect his value in steals, and his approach should come in above the league average. However, he struggled with runners on base (RBI rate – 11), and Mullins would need a lot to go right to repeat his output in power. With an entire season of at-bats, I’ll set his bar at .270 with 80 runs, 18 home runs, 55 RBI and a chance at 35-plus steals.

OF Austin Hays

Three games into 2021, Hays landed on the injured list for two weeks with a hamstring issue. The same injury cost him another 14 games in late May and early June. Over the first four months of the year, he hit .237 with 43 runs, 10 home runs and 36 RBI over 266 at-bats. Hays found his hitting stroke over his final 58 games (.279 over 222 at-bats with 30 runs, 12 home runs, 35 RBI). His average hit rate (1.800) fell in line with his 2018 and 2019 seasons, but he finished with a weaker contact batting average (.328). Hays handled himself well against lefties (.308 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI over 198 at-bats). His walk rate (5.3) remains in a weak area while posting a better than league average strikeout rate (20.2).

Fantasy Outlook

Early in his minor league career, Hays had the look of a 30-plus home run hitter with a high floor in batting average. Unfortunately, injuries have cost him development time at the major league level, but his bat did shine with runners on base (RBI rate – 17) in 2021. In addition, he’ll chip in with a handful of steals, and Baltimore should hit him between second and fifth in the batting order this year. Hays looks poised to push over 30 home runs with a sneaky ceiling in batting average. His ADP (207) puts him in buying range while still owning injury risk.

1B Ryan Mountcastle

In his first full season with Baltimore, Mountcastle underachieved in batting average (.232) and contact batting average (.320). He hit .295 in his minor-league career over 2,078 at-bats with 70 home runs, 274 RBI and 27 stolen bases, with a much higher contact batting average (.375). He struggled over his 48 games in 2021 (.225 with four home runs, 20 RBI and three steals over 173 at-bats) due to a high strikeout rate (32.1). Mountcastle played well in June (.327/17/9/26), followed by a quiet July (.205/10/3/10). Despite missing 10 days in August, he finished the year with an uptick in power over his final 48 games (.262 with 32 runs, 16 home runs and 32 RBI over 183 at-bats). Mountcastle traded batting average (.204) for power (8) in September based on his high strikeout rate (31.7). Like Cedric Mullins, his infield flyball rate (8.0) came in much later than his minor-league resume (well over 20%). As a result, Mountcastle finished with a career-best HR/FB rate (20.4). His strikeout rate (27.5) showed more promise in the minors (23.4).

Fantasy Outlook

The key to Mountcastle’s success in his second year with the Orioles will be his ability to control the strikeout zone better. His natural progression should be a neutral batting average (around .270) while having the skill set to be even better. He barreled the ball well in 2021 (11.8% – 57th) for players with over 250 plate appearances. I will think of him as a .280 hitter with a 90/30/90/5 skill set. He comes off the board as the seventh first base option with an ADP of 108 in the early draft season in the NFBC.e

DH Trey Mancini

After missing 2020 due to a battle with colon cancer, Mancini failed to match his breakout season of 2019. His average hit rate (1.690) slipped back to his 2017 (1.667) and 2018 (1.716) levels, leading to a sharp decline in home runs (21). He also had a step back in his contact batting average (.344 – .381 in 2019). Mancini finished with a similar approach (strikeout rate – 23.2 and walk rate – 8.3) as his career averages (23.0/7.5). In addition, he struggled on the road (.226/34/7/32), with an empty second half (.254/29/5/16). His only impact month came in May (.320/18/6/25). Mancini continues to have a ground ball swing path (48.3%– 49.8 in his career) while posting a weaker HR/FB rate (16.2).

Fantasy Outlook

This draft season, Mancini falls into a corner infield option in most formats based on his ADP (185) and ranking at first base (20th). He has proven floor in power (at least 20 home runs). I expect a rebound in batting average with neutral success in runs and RBI. Baltimore needs a better lineup around him to help with his RBI chances (he never had over 388 runners on bases in his career). Think of him as a steady player with some help in four categories.

OF Anthony Santander

Over the previous three seasons, Santander gave fantasy owners stretches of playable stats, but he has also missed many games. His 2021 season started with dull first 16 games (.196/5/2/8 over 56 at-bats) before landing on the injured list for a month with an ankle injury. He also missed time late in July with Covid-19. As a result, Santander barely had a pulse over the first four months (.223/25/6/26 over 233 at-bats). In August, an uptick in play (.309/15/8/13) helped fantasy teams, but he ended the year on a quiet note (.215/14/4/11). With the Orioles, his contact batting average has never been over .337 while owning a high enough average hit rate (1.828, 2.200, 1.796) to hit over 30 home runs if ever given over 500 at-bats.

Fantasy Outlook

I would have a tough time drafting Santander based on his ADP (247) in the early draft season. I see the attraction to his potential power, but Santander only looks playable when he’s getting at-bats and seeing the ball well. At best, .260 with 75 runs, 25 home runs and 75 RBI with 480 at-bats.

2B Rougned Odor

After a breakout season in 2016 (.271 over 605 at-bats with 89 runs, 33 home runs, 88 RBI and 14 stolen bases), Odor has almost played his way out of baseball over the last five years (.213 with 289 runs, 103 home runs, 300 RBI and 38 stolen bases over 2,063 at-bats) while just reaching the prime of his career. His strikeout rate (29.8) has been a problem over the past three seasons, with some improvement in his walk rate (7.9) over this span. Despite hitting .164 over his first 61 at-bats with four home runs and 11 RBI, Odor appeared to be on the improve based on his approach (seven walks and 11 strikeouts). Unfortunately, 13 missed games with a left knee injury led to a dismal final four-and-a-half months (.211 over 261 at-bats with 34 runs, 11 home runs and 28 RBI) and a part-time opportunity. In addition, he had a weaker swing against righties (.191/28/9/27 over 225 at-bats). Over the last three seasons, Odor has been a high-volume flyball hitter (47.9, 50.0, and 47.2%). He brings pull-hitter mentality to the plate, but only one-third of his balls in play were hit hard in 2021.

Fantasy Outlook

For someone looking for low-average power, Odor will be found in the free-agent pool (ADP – 483) in most formats this draft season. The move to Baltimore gives him a chance at full-time at-bats. In his career, he has only been slightly better against right-handed pitching (.236/22/121 over 2,421 at-bats) than lefties (.229/40/135 over 1,059 at-bats). His home ballpark and 500-plus at-bats give him a chance at 30-plus home runs with about 70 runs and 70 RBI. Unfortunately, stolen bases look like a lost community (no steals over his last 460 at-bats).

C Adley Rutschman

Baltimore drafted Rutschman in the first round in the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft. He came into college with a light-hitting swing. His power developed in 2019 (17 home runs over 185 at-bats) at Oregon State, along with his approach (76 walks and 38 strikeouts over 266 plate appearances). After missing development time in the 2020 COVID-19 season, Rutschman handled himself well at AA (.271 over 295 at-bats with 61 runs, 18 home runs, 55 RBI and one steal). He finished with strength in his walk rate (15.4) while posting a better major-ready strikeout rate (15.9). The Orioles bumped him to AAA on August 10, leading to another 43 successful games (.312/25/5/20/2 over 157 at-bats).

Fantasy Outlook

At age 24, Rutschman should be in the majors by June. His bat looks ready and his defense won’t hold him back from making the jump to Baltimore. Based on his early ADP (191 – ninth catcher drafted) in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, fantasy owners expect him to be up quickly once the Orioles gain one more arbitration year (subject to change once the new labor deal has been signed). In addition, his average hit rate (1.760 in 2021) says 20-plus home runs should be a given in his rookie season if he gets more than 450 at-bats. Rutschman also has the approach to be an asset in batting average early in his career.

3B Kelvin Gutierrez

Gutierrez looks to be a placeholder at third base until Baltimore signs another option after the lockout ends. Over eight seasons in the minors, he hit .282 with 383 runs, 40 home runs, 342 RBI and 82 stolen bases over 2,780 at-bats. His best overall year came in 2018 at AA (.275/65/11/66/20 over 472 at-bats). However, he had a low average hit rate (1.399) in the minors, limiting his ceiling in power.

Fantasy Outlook

If given a starting job, Gutierrez could offer sneaky speed at third base with some help in batting average. In addition, he has enough size (6-2 and 215 pounds) where a change in swing path could lead to a spike in home runs. However, I don’t expect him to be drafted in any format.

SS Jorge Mateo

Over eight seasons in the minors, Mateo hit .267 with 52 home runs, 302 RBI and 283 steals over 2,818 at-bats. He has 59 triples and 193 stolen bases over his last four years in the minors, highlighting his explosiveness in speed. However, his success as a base stealer (78) needs some work, and his approach (strikeout rate – 23.1 and walk rate – 7.3) does invite some risk early in his career.

In his first two months in the majors last season, Mateo hit .236 over 220 at-bats with 23 runs, four home runs, 16 RBI and 11 steals. He finished 2021 with nine walks and 55 strikeouts over 194 at-bats.

Fantasy Outlook

The Orioles gave Mateo playing time at 2B, SS and OF last season. He doesn’t look ready to be a full-time major league player, but his combination of power and speed looks intriguing if Mateo can earn starting at-bats. For now, a Draft Champions flier for steals. Baltimore should use multiple options at shortstop in 2022.

Bench Options

C Jacob Nottingham

After posting an excellent season in 2015 between A and High A ball (.316 over 465 at-bats with 73 runs, 17 home runs and 82 RBI), Nottingham never repeated his success over the next five years in the minors. Over three seasons at AAA, he hit .250 with 73 runs, 15 home runs, 76 RBI and eight stolen bases over 468 at-bats. His walk rate (8.0) was league average over this span while owning a high strikeout rate (29.2).

Other than batting average (.184 over 114 at-bats), Nottingham showed power (eight home runs and 23 RBI) in his time in the majors. Unfortunately, he whiffed 38.5% of the time, leading to a trip back to the minors.

Fantasy Outlook

Nottingham has enough power to possibly work as the bridge catcher for Baltimore until they call up Adley Rutschman. However, his swing-and-miss approach makes him more of a week-to-week injury cover in deep formats if he earns a starting job early in the year.

1B Tyler Nevin

The Rockies drafted Nevin with the 38th pick in the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .273 with 243 runs, 52 home runs, 245 RBI and 24 stolen bases. In 2021, Nevin had four hits in 14 at-bats with three runs, one home run, and three RBI in his first chance in the major. His approach grades well enough to earn a bench role for Baltimore this season.

2B Ramon Urias

Urias gave the Orioles some good at-bats (262) off the bench last year (.279/33/7/38). However, his bat failed to make an impact over five seasons in the minors (.268 with 161 runs, 29 home runs, 160 RBI, 11 stolen bases over 1,055 at-bats). Urias saw time at 2B, 3B and SS in 2021. He is a low-ceiling player with a minimal chance of winning a full-time job.

SS Jordan Westburg

Westburg appears to be the shortstop in the minors with the best chance to help Baltimore in 2022. The Orioles selected him as the 30th player in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft. In his only season in the minors, he hit .285 with 74 runs, 15 home runs, 79 RBI and 17 stolen bases over 424 at-bats. However, his struggles at AA (.232/15/4/14/3 over 112 at-bats) suggest Westburg needs more development time at AAA before jumping to Baltimore. Nevertheless, he is a player to follow if the Orioles have a weakness at shortstop.

OF DJ Stewart

Over five seasons in the minors, Stewart hit .255 with 64 home runs, 269 RBI and 66 steals over 1,788 at-bats. Baltimore gave him his best opportunity in 2021, leading to 270 at-bats with 39 runs, 12 home runs, and 33 RBI. Unfortunately, his season ended in September with a right knee injury that required surgery. Stewart has 524 career at-bats in the majors with reasonable production (75/26/73/3) despite a low batting average (.214). He’ll take a walk (13.3%) while needing to clean up his strikeout rate (26.7). At best, a platoon player with a sneaky combination of power and speed.

Starting Pitching

SP John Means

For the second time in three seasons, Means delivered a successful year in ERA (3.62) and WHIP (1.030). He improved his first-pitch strike rate (69.3) to an elite level, but home runs allowed (30 over 146.2 innings) were a problem for the second straight season. Over his 26 starts, he gave up three runs or fewer in 20 games. Means missed six weeks in June and July due to a strained left shoulder, which led to a 4.88 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over his final 75.2 innings. He had similar success against righties (.223 BAA with 27 home runs over 439 at-bats) and lefties (.229 BAA) while doing a much better job on the road (2.84 ERA and 79 strikeouts over 82.1 innings).

His average fastball (92.9) came in better than 2019 (91.9) while relying on a high-volume changeup (.227 BAA), elite curveball (.165 BAA) and slider (.269 BAA). In 2019, Means had more success with his slider (.171 BAA) than his curveball (.409 BAA). He continues to pitch up in the strike zone, leading to a high flyball rate (47.4 – 48.1 in his career).

Fantasy Outlook

There is no doubt Means is a pitching asset when healthy and on his game. Unfortunately, too many mistakes leave the ballpark, inviting some disaster starts. Delivering double-digit wins will be a problem until Baltimore improves its bullpen and overall offense. Nevertheless, his ADP (224) is reasonable considering his success. Pitching in the AL East is enough of a reason to fade. If his arm regresses, his ERA and WHIP will move into a disaster area due to his risk with home runs.

SP Grayson Rodriguez

The future ace of the Orioles lies in the left arm of Rodriguez. Baltimore selected him in the first round (11th) of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft after completing his high school career. In his first year at A ball, Rodriguez went 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 94.0 innings. Then, after missing the Covid-19 season in 2020, he dominated over 23 starts between High A and AA (9-1 with a 2.36 ERA, 0.825 WHIP and 161 strikeouts over 103 innings). The Orioles allowed him to pitch over five innings in only one game last year while failing to throw over 85 pitches in any contest. His improved walk rate (2.4) is an excellent sign for his push to the majors in 2022.

Rodriguez’s fastball sits in the mid-90s while flashing upper 90s upside last year. In addition, his changeup made a step forward while still featuring an explosive slider. He needs more consistency with his curveball despite already having swing-and-miss ability.

Fantasy Outlook

Baltimore will start Rodriguez at AAA with the mindset to push him to 130-140 innings. However, the Orioles won’t rush him to the majors as their team isn’t ready to push up the standings in the AL East. Nevertheless, Rodriguez is a future stud front-line starter, and he should get his callup to Baltimore this summer. When setting his 2022 fantasy value, the trick is hitting on the correct number of starts in the majors. In the early draft season in the NFBC, his ADP (506) remains in the free column. I expect him to pitch a minimum of 50 innings with the Orioles, with success in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.

SP Bruce Zimmermann

Despite weakness in his ERA (5.04) and WHIP (1.508) with the Orioles, Zimmermann allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his 14 games. Without his three disaster outings (12 runs and 23 baserunners over 7.1 innings), he had a 3.79 ERA and 1.298 WHIP over 57 innings with 52 strikeouts. Zimmermann missed two-and-a-half months with Baltimore due to a right ankle issue.

Over four seasons in the minors, he went 19-16 with a 3.21 ERA and 326 strikeouts over 319.1 innings. However, Zimmermann failed to make an impact over his 11 starts at AAA (4.19 ERA and 1.435 WHIP over 53.2 innings).

His average fastball (91.6) ranks below the league average. Zimmermann had success with his slider (.234 BAA) and curveball (.132 BAA), but batters drilled his four-seam fastball (.370 with nine home runs over 108 at-bats). Home runs (seven over 94 at-bats) were also an issue with his changeup (.266 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook

With the starting pitching cupboard looking empty again in 2022 for the Orioles, Zimmermann did enough last year to warrant a starting job out of spring training. His home runs allowed (2.0/game) point to some bad innings, and I’m sure the Orioles will hang him out to dry a couple of times. I don’t expect many wins, so I’d avoid chasing him for too many starts.

SP Dean Kremer

After struggling as a reliever in 2017 (1-4 with 5.18 ERA and 96 strikeouts over 80 innings), Kremer moved into the starting rotation over the next two years in the minors. His arm shined in 2018 (10-5 with 2.88 ERA) thanks to a jump in strikeouts (178 over 131.1 innings). He handled himself well at AA (2.98 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 84.2 innings) in 2019, but Kremer struggled over his four starts at AAA (8.84 ERA and 1.759 WHIP over 19.1 innings). Last year, he went 1-5 at AAA with 4.91 ERA and 69 strikeouts over 62.1 innings.

Weakness in the Orioles’ starting rotation led to Kremer getting pounded over his 13 starts. He went 0-7 with a 7.55 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and 47 strikeouts over 53.2 innings. In addition, Kremer served up 17 home runs while posting weakness in his BB/9 (4.2). Right-handed batters hit .313 with 11 home runs over 128 at-bats.

His average fastball (92.6) came in below the league average. In addition, Kremer lacks a changeup of value while making too many mistakes with his slider (.231 BAA with three home runs over 65 at-bats) and curveball (.264 BAA with four home runs over 53 at-bats). He struggled keeping the ball down with Baltimore (flyball rate – 50.9).

Fantasy Outlook

Kremer has a lot of work to do if he wants to keep a major league starting job. He has no fantasy value at this point in his career, but his minor league resume suggests improvement.

SP Jordan Lyles

Sensing another long year in the starting pitching department, Baltimore signed Lyles to a one-year deal ($7 million). He brings an innings-eater feel after back-to-back poor seasons (11-19 with a 5.60 ERA and 182 strikeouts over 237.2 innings). Lyles allowed the most runs in the American League in 2020 (45) and 2021 (103) while also serving up 50 home runs. He has never had an ERA under 4.11 in the majors.

Lyles saw his average fastball (93.3) improve slightly from 2020 (92.4). His slider (.238 BAA) still grades while offering a serviceable low-volume changeup (.233 BAA). Batters continue to tee off on his curveball (.314 BAA) and four-seam fastball (.285 with 19 home runs over 249 at-bats).

Fantasy Outlook

His only fantasy value will come in the daily games, where his disaster days pay big dividends.

SP Zac Lowther

Lowther went 13-7 in 2019 at AA with a 2.55 ERA and 154 strikeouts over 148 innings, pushing his three-year resume to a 23-13 record with a 2.26 ERA and 380 strikeouts over 326 innings. In 2021, he lost his way in the minors (0-6 with a 6.86 ERA and 45 strikeouts over 39.1 innings), but Baltimore still gave him 10 games in the majors. Lowther struggled in a spot start in May (seven runs and nine baserunners over 2.1 innings) while making four other relief appearances (three runs over six innings). His arm looked viable over three starts in September (two runs and 18 baserunners over 16 innings with 13 strikeouts), but the Red Sox and Blue Jays drilled him in two other games (10 runs and 14 baserunners over 5.1 innings).

His average fastball (90.7) fit into the soft tosser mode. Lowther struggled with his changeup (.444 BAA) and four-seam fastball (.339 BAA). Both his slider (.150 BAA) and curveball (.167 BAA) had upside.

Fantasy Outlook

There is a better arm here than shown in 2021. The key to his growth is better command of his fastball in and out of the strike zone. Despite a below-par fastball, his minor-league resume showed strikeout ability (10.5 per nine). Lowther may very well win a starting job out of spring training. Keep an open mind, but also a quick hook if his command falters, leading to some long home runs and disaster innings.

SP DL Hall

Baltimore drafted Hall 21st overall in 2017 in the MLB June Amateur Draft. Over his four seasons in the minors, he went 8-12 with 2.99 ERA and 284 strikeouts over 217 innings. Hall has never pitched over 95 innings in a season, and he missed the last three-and-a-half months of 2021 with a left elbow injury.

Hall has yet to figure out his command, leading to a high BB/9 rate (5.1). His ceiling in strikeouts will increase once he throws more strikes. He has a plus fastball with upper 90s upside. Hall is developing his slider and curveball while owning a difference-maker curveball.

Fantasy Outlook

At age 23, Baltimore should start him at AAA. He pitched well at AA (3.13 ERA over 31.2 innings with 56 strikeouts) last year, but Hall needs to build up his arm strength before being ready to help in the fantasy market. Must follow, as growth his command could lead to an exciting start to his major-league career. I can’t see him pitching over 120 innings in 2022.


RP Tyler Wells

Wells blew out his right elbow just before 2019 at AAA, leading to no games pitched over the next two seasons. From 2016 to 2018, he went 20-13 as a starter with 2.92 ERA and 288 strikeouts over 255.2 innings. Wells always minimized the damage in home runs allowed with a good feel for the strike zone. He made the Orioles’ bullpen out of spring training in 2021, but his arm offered more risk than reward over his first 13 games (5.48 ERA over 21.1 innings with 27 strikeouts). His downfall came from six home runs allowed. However, Wells looked closer worthy over his next 25 games (1.74 ERA, 14 hits allowed, six walks, 36 strikeouts and two saves over 31 innings). Over his final six appearances, he blew two of his four save tries after allowing seven runs and nine baserunners over 4.2 innings with two strikeouts. Wells finished with an excellent first-strike rate (67), leading to strength in his walk rate (1.9) and strikeout rate (10.3).

He offered a mid-90s fastball (95.2), and batters finished with a .193 batting average. In addition, Wells featured a plus slider (.197 BAA) and changeup (.156 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook

Without a doubt, Wells should have the inside track for saves for Baltimore in 2022. He brings three dominating pitches that should get better with more experience. His ADP (448) in the early drafts at the NFBC looks to be a buying opportunity. If Wells keeps the job all year, his ceiling may only be the mid-20s in saves unless Baltimore can push their win total closer to 70. I expect his ERA and WHIP to be assets while producing serviceable strikeouts. The only concern here is that Wells finished 2021 with a sore right shoulder.

RP Cole Sulser

After failing as a starter in 2014 (4-14 with a 5.43 ERA over 136 innings), Sulser had his second TJ surgery. He started to rebuild his minor league in the bullpen in 2016, leading to success over four seasons at AAA (13-7 with 3.42 ERA, five saves and 233 strikeouts over 171 innings). After struggling with his command (6.8 walks per nine) in 2020 with Baltimore, Sulser found his groove last year in the Orioles’ bullpen. He ended the year with a 2.70 ERA over 63.1 innings with eight saves and 73 strikeouts.

His average fastball (93.3) doesn’t create an edge, but Sulser has an elite changeup (.133 BAA). However, finding a breaking pitch of value remains an obstacle in his development.

Fantasy Outlook

At age 32, with only 13 career saves, Sulser takes the back seat to Tyler Wells for the closing job in Baltimore even with success after last year’s All-Star break (2.05 ERA with 29 strikeouts over 30.2 innings). Nevertheless, I view him as capable of closing if he throws strikes. Unfortunately, the Orioles won’t produce many saves, so Sulser (ADP of 509) will be found in the waiver wire in most formats.

RP Tanner Scott

Scott started to find his way in 2018 and 2019 at AAA (2.51 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 57.1 innings). The Orioles gave him chances in the majors over this span, but his arm fell short of expectations (5.20 ERA over 79.2 innings with 113 strikeouts). Scott’s failure comes from a massive walk rate (5.5). He showed improvement in 2020 (1.31 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 20.2 innings) while losing his way again in 2021 (5.17 ERA).

Fantasy Outlook

Not closer-worthy at this point of his career, but his strikeout rate (12.0) does point to more upside if he ever finds home plate with more consistency.