2024 Baltimore Orioles Pitching Preview

A deep dive fantasy baseball preview from legendary Shawn Childs

2024 Baltimore Orioles Pitching Preview

The conclusion of the football season means that fantasy fanatics can now prepare for spring training and the upcoming baseball season. Courtesy of Baseball America, NFBC Hall-of-Fame analyst Shawn Childs takes a deep dive into the 2024 Baltimore Orioles Pitching Preview.

Baltimore shocked baseball last season by winning an AL-high 101 games. Do the young Orioles have the pitching to take the next step? Shawn breaks it down for us.

Starting Pitching

SP Grayson Rodriguez

Baltimore selected Rodriguez 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, he went 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 94.0 innings. Then, after missing the COVID-19 season in 2020, Rodriguez 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).

In 2022, Rodriguez was on the doorstep of the majors in early June (5-1 at AAA with 2.09 ERA, .168 BAA, and 80 strikeouts over 56 innings), but he left his 11th minor league start with a lat issue. After missing three months, Rodriguez struggled to find his previous form over his final 19.2 innings (nine runs and 28 baserunners) while striking out 29 batters.

The excitement of Rodriguez was high when he made the Orioles’ starting rotation out of spring training. After a reasonable April (1-0 with a 4.07 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 24.1 innings), he lost his confidence over his next five starts (11.14 ERA), highlighted by his 45 baserunners and 11 home runs allowed over 21.0 innings. Baltimore shipped to AAA for the next seven weeks, where Grayson regained his edge (4-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 56 strikeouts over 41.1 innings). Over his final 12 starts with the Orioles, he allowed three runs or fewer in each contest, leading to a 5-2 record with a 2.26 ERA and 69 strikeouts over 71.2 innings. More importantly, Grayson only surrendered three more home runs.

His average fastball (97.4) was elite in velocity. Batters struggled to hit his changeup (.191), slider (.143), and curveball (.173) while offering a losing cutter (.375). Despite growth in the second half, Grayson still battled his four-seamer (.313 with two home runs over 131 at-bats) while barely throwing his cutter. The next step in his growth is better command (3.1 walks per nine) and solving lefties (.277 with nine home runs and 24 walks over 195 innings).

Fantasy Outlook: Between AAA and the majors, Grayson pitched 165 innings, putting him on track to take the mound every fifth day for Baltimore. In the early draft season in the NFBC, he has an ADP of 71 as the 21st starting pitcher selected. He looks poised to offer ace stats, with his ceiling behind limited to expected innings (180). The direction of Baltimore gives him a chance at 15+ wins with a sub-3.00 ERA and 200 strikeouts. If his spring reports are on point, I expect him to push to the early fourth round in the live events in Las Vegas in March.

SP Kyle Bradish

Over three seasons in the minors, Bradish went 15-13 with a 3.66 ERA and 283 strikeouts over 229 innings. After struggling at AAA in 2021 (4.67 ERA and 1.431 WHIP over 86.2 innings), his arm moved quickly to the majors in 2022 after three starts (1.20 ERA and 15.0 innings with 37 strikeouts).

With Baltimore, Bradish struggled in six of his first 10 starts, leading to 38 runs, 82 baserunners, and 11 home runs over 46.1 innings. A right shoulder injury pushed him to the injured list, and then he had three rehab starts in the minors in July (two runs and six baserunners over 12.2 innings with one walk and 15 strikeouts). His arm improved over his next nine starts with the Orioles (7-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 50.2 innings). Bradish did a better job keeping the ball in the yard (0.9 per nine innings). His final four starts came @TOR, HOU, @BOS, and @NYY, resulting in two disaster showings (10 runs and 25 baserunners over 20.2 innings).

Last year, Bradish outpitched his previous resume at all levels, thanks to a step forward in his command (2.3 walks per nine). He allowed two runs or fewer in 21 of his 30 starts. His arm played well vs. righties (.211) and lefties (.220), with better success at home (2.23 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 76.2 innings). Over the back half of the year, he posted an ERA of 2.25 or lower each month while being more challenging to hit after the All-Star Break (.187).

The value of his slider lost about half of a mile per hour while featuring his slider (.177 BAA) as his top pitch (30.8%). His cutter (.367 BAA) remains a liability despite throwing it as his second-highest rate. Batters struggled with his sinker (.214 BAA) and curveball (.163 BAA), with some regression with his changeup (.293 BAA – better pitch in the second half ~ .210 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Despite growth in his command, Bradish continues to have weakness in his first-pitch strike rate (57.6). He did throw more overall strikes in 2023, and his overall arsenal did support his growth. His ADP (98) is reasonable (41st pitcher), considering his progression and 2024 potential. I hate buying arms off of career year, especially the ones that helped drafters win leagues with a free price point. Trending toward 180+ innings with some pullback in ERA and WHIP should be expected. In 2023, Bradish was the 16th-ranked pitcher by FPGscore (4.19).

SP John Means

Twice over his first three seasons with the Orioles, Means delivered a successful year in ERA (3.60 and 3.62) and WHIP (1.135 and 1.030). He improved his first-pitch strike rate (69.3) to an elite level in 2021, 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).

Two starts into his 2022 season, Means blew out his left elbow, leading to TJ surgery and a lengthy recovery. Last year, after six appearances in the minor (3.74 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 21.1 innings), he returned to the mound in Baltimore in September. Means allowed three runs or fewer in his four starts (2.66 ERA over 23.2 innings with 10 strikeouts) while pitching five innings in each game. His left elbow flared up in October, putting him on the shelf in the postseason.

His average fastball (91.6) was below 2021 (92.9) while relying on a high-volume changeup (.146 BAA) and winning curveball (.143 BAA). Means struggles with his slider (.273 BAA) with no strikeouts over 11 at-bats.

Fantasy Outlook: Means comes into 2024 with minimal stats over the past two seasons while not offering an edge in strikeouts. His command tends to be elite, but he has battled home runs (1.7 per nine) in his career. Pitching in Baltimore this season will be a much better environment than in 2021. The Orioles are a more competitive team, and his home park is more favorable to pitching. His ADP (287) makes him an SP4/SP5 in 15-team formats. I respect his arm, and Means should beat the league average in ERA and WHIP with a good chance at double-digit wins.

SP Dean Kremer

In 2022, Kremer started the season on the injured list with an oblique injury. After two appearances in the minors (no runs over nine innings with two walks and 18 strikeouts), his ticket was pushed to Baltimore. He handled himself well over his first five starts (1.29 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 28 innings) before looking lost in July (18 runs, 40 baserunners, and five home runs over 23.1 innings).

After getting dumped back into the free-agent pool, Kremer soared over his final 12 games (2.80 ERA and 1.149 WHIP over 74 innings with 46 strikeouts). At the end of the season, his walk rate (2.4) was the best of his career as a starter. Unfortunately, Kremer’s improved command sharply declined his strikeout rate (6.2 – 10.9 in the minors).

Baltimore gave Kremer 32 starts last year, and he responded to win 13 games with an uptick in his strikeout rate (8.2). On the downside, his ERA (4.12) and WHIP (1.309) were liabilities due to struggles in April (6.67 ERA) and June (5.91 ERA). Over his final 15 starts (5-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts), Kremer helped fantasy teams move up in the standings.

His fastball came in at 94.8 MPH and was the best of his career while relying on a four-seamer (.254), changeup (.250 BAA), slider (.222 BAA), and cutter (.232 BAA). After the All-Star break, Kremer stopped throwing his slider, but his curveball (.357 BAA – fifth option) remained a liability. His top three pitches all gained value. His next step in his growth is solving lefties (.270 with 15 home runs over 300 at-bats).

Fantasy Outlook: Despite his growth over the latter part of 2023, Kremer will be found in the free-agent pool in most leagues based on his early ADP (517) in the high-stakes market. When looking at his walk rate (2.9) and strikeout rate (8.2) last year, there is more to his story. A viable backend dart as his replacement cost will be minimal. Trending toward a sub-3.75 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, with some help in wins and strikeouts.

SP Tyler Wells

After the 2021 season, Wells looked in position to compete for a late-inning role based on his command and high first-pitch strike rate (67). Instead, he opened the year in the Orioles’ starting rotation. After a dull showing (four runs, five baserunners, and one home run over 1.2 innings), Wells posted a 2.68 ERA, .207 BAA, and 48 strikeouts over his next 74 innings. An oblique issue in late July led to about six weeks on the injured list. His arm lost value over his final seven appearances (7.39 ERA,1.50 WHIP, and seven home runs over 28 innings) due to battling right shoulder inflammation.

Wells was Baltimore’s best arm before the All-Star break (7-4 with a 3.18 ERA, 0.927 WHIP, and 103 strikeouts over 104.2 innings) despite allowing 21 home runs. After three poor showings (11 runs, 10 hits, nine walks, and four home runs over nine innings), the Orioles surprisingly sent him to the minors (5.52 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, and 14 strikeouts over 14.2 innings), where he worked out of the bullpen. He did miss some time in early September due to arm fatigue. Upon returning to the majors late in the year, Wells tossed five no-hit shutout innings in relief with six strikeouts.

His average fastball (92.8) had less velocity than his previous two years (95.1 and 97.3). Wells earned success in 2023 with all of his pitches (four-seamer – 218 BAA, changeup – .205 BAA, cutter – .212 BAA, slider – .140 BAA, and curveball – .192 BAA), leading to an edge vs. righties (.191 BAA) and lefties (.198 BAA).

Wells continues to be a flyball pitcher (54.6% – 51.7 in his career), leading a rising HR/9 rate (1.9) and HR/FB rate (14.6).

Fantasy Outlook: Over his time in pro ball, Wells has never pitched more than 135 innings in a season. His overall stuff plays well when in form other than his battles with the long ball. Despite challenging to hit with a winning WHIP (0.99) from last year, he’ll be found in the free-agent pool in all formats based on his early ADP (524) as the fantasy market debates his durability. If Wells wins a starting job out of spring training, he is worth a ride until his stats go sideways or he lands on the injured list. A switch to the bullpen would preserve his arm for the full season.

SP DL Hall

Baltimore drafted Hall 21st overall in 2017 in the MLB June Amateur Draft. Over his six seasons in the minors, he went 13-22 with a 3.49 ERA and 499 strikeouts over 353.1 innings. Hall has never pitched over 95 innings in a season. After missing the last three and half months of 2021 with a left elbow injury, Hall posted the worst season of his career (5.23 ERA and 1.387 WHIP over 84.1 innings) in 2022, with most struggles at AAA (4.22 ERA, 1.388 WHIP, and 70 strikeouts over 49 innings) last season. He missed six weeks in 2023 with a back issue.

Needing bullpen help late in the season, Baltimore gave Hall 18 games to prove his worth in the majors. Somehow, he figured out how to throw more strikes (2.3 per nine – 5.2 in his minor league career), leading to much better than expected results (3.26 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 19.1 innings). In his limited action with the Orioles, he offered a mid-90s fastball (94.6) while featuring an excellent changeup (.206 BAA) as his second pitch, followed by a slider (.228 BAA), and low-volume curveball (no hits over 20 at-bats).

Fantasy Outlook: I can’t see Hall earning a starting job this year for Baltimore. He has talent, but his command issues continue to hold him back. At age 25, it’s showtime for his major league career. The Orioles need an upside lefty arm out of the bullpen. Any experience and success in relief could lead to a change in role down the road. Only a flier in any fantasy format until Hall learns to throw more strikes.

SP Cole Irvin

Irvin pitched well in the minors over six seasons (41-18 with a 3.18 ERA and 387 strikeouts over 506.1 innings), but he didn’t get his first starting job in the majors until 2021 at age 27 for the A’s. Between 2021 and 2022, he went 19-28 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.244 WHIP, and 253 strikeouts over 359.1 innings. His walk rate (2.0) graded well while offering a soft-tossing strikeout rate (6.3).

In 2023, Irvin pitched between AAA (6-3 with a 4.38 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 49.1 innings) and Baltimore (1-4 with a 4.42 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 77.1 innings) with below-par results. His strikeout rate (7.9) with the Orioles did show growth, but home runs (1.3 per nine) remain an issue.

His average fastball (92.0) was a three-year high. Batters struggled to hit his four-seamer (.227 BAA), cutter (.219 BAA), and slider (.235 BAA), but Irvin lost the feel of his changeup (.298 BAA – third-best pitch by usage).

Fantasy Outlook: Irvin is only a backend inning eater with a chance to help a fantasy team in a double start week if he’s pitching well. He’ll be found in the free pool in all redraft formats in 2024.


CL Craig Kimbrel

The Dodgers acquired Kimbrel on April 1st in 2022. He appeared to be a fantasy steal over his first 13 games (3.00 ERA, 17 strikeouts, and nine saves). His arm was a disaster from May 27th to August 16th (5.22 ERA, 1.670 WHIP, and 39 strikeouts over 29.1 innings), but he still converted 11 of his 15 saves. Kimbrel rebounded over his final 19 appearances (1.93 ERA, 0.804 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts over 18.2 innings) despite still batting his command (10 walks). Los Angeles only gave him three more save chances (2-for-3).

With Jose Alvarado pitching well early last year for the Phillies, Kimbrel worked in a split closing role over their first 32 games. After two poor showings to start May, he had an 8.25 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts over his first 12 innings of work. From May 9th to July 19th, Kimbrel allowed only three runs and 17 baserunners over 28 innings with 43 strikeouts, leading to four wins and 13 save conversions. Unfortunately, his arm was up and down over his final 29 appearances (3.41 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 29 innings) while converting seven of his 12 save chances.

His average fastball (95.8) almost matched 2022 but well below his peak value (98.2 in 2015). Batters struggled to hit all his pitches (four-seamer – .210 BAA, slider – .167 BAA, and curveball – .149 BAA).

From 2011 to 2018, Kimbrel was one of the better closer in baseball (27-19 with a 1.97 ERA, 0.908 WHIP, 828 strikeouts, and 332 saves over 512 innings). His arm has been unimpressive over the past five seasons (18-23 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 324 strikeouts, and 84 saves over 224.2 innings). He hasn’t saved more than 25 games since 2018.

Fantasy Outlook: Kimbrel has 417 career saves, giving him the closing experience needed to get another shot at the ninth inning for Baltimore. His walk rate (3.7) and home runs allowed (1.3) were an issue again last season, with a slight rebound in his strikeout rate (12.3 – 10.8 in 2022 and 14.2 in his career). His ADP (101) in the NFBC in early January ranks Kimbrel as the 17th closer. Drafting him is about getting saves with hopes that he can stay locked in for a longer portion of the season. He will pitch in tie games, creating some extra value in wins. I’ll set his bat at a 3.50 ERA and 30 saves with some help in strikeouts.

RP Yennier Cano

Cano earned his stripes early in professional baseball pitching in Cuba, highlighted by his success from 2014 to 2016 (18-6 with a 2.07 ERA and 90 strikeouts over 156 innings). His strikeout rate (5.2) didn’t support his edge in ERA. After falling off the prospect map for four seasons, he worked his way through the Twins and Orioles systems from 2019 to 2023.

Last year, after three appearances at AAA (no runs over three innings with three strikeouts), Cano turned into a relief stud in his first year with Baltimore. He threw strikes (walk rate – 1.6) while ranking below par in his strikeout rate (8.1). His arsenal did have more issues with lefties (.262 BAA) despite not allowing a home run over 103 at-bats.

His average fastball (96.8) beat the league average while relying on a plus changeup (.194 BAA). His sinker (.250 BAA) and slider (.258 BAA) weren’t difference-maker pitches.

Fantasy Outlook: The Orioles gave Cano chances to save games last year, but he finished with six blown leads in 14 tries. His development is tempting as a closer in waiting based on Craig Kimbrel’s up-and-down trend over the past few years. His ADP (337) is wide enough for a drafter to handcuff him, and I can’t see his price point rising without Kimbrel struggling in spring training. Cano has a short resume, so I would try not to overpay for him.

RP Bryan Baker

It took Baltimore two seasons to switch Baker from a starter to a reliever. The most significant strike in his minor league career was his walk rate (4.2), which has only been slightly better with the Orioles (3.9). Over six seasons in the minors, he went 25-17 with a 3.36 ERA, 302 strikeouts, and 25 saves on 262.1 innings.

Baker gave Baltimore 115.2 good innings over the past two seasons, leading to a 3.50 ERA and 128 strikeouts. His walk rate (4.8) spiked last year, but he was more challenging to hit (.210 BAA). He had the most success vs. left-handed pitching (.143 BAA). Most of his failures came over 15 games from May 18th to June 27th (11 runs and 19 baserunners over 12.0 innings). Over his other 33 innings, he posted a 1.91 ERA and 1.152 WHIP.

His average fastball (95.8) has plenty of life, with two winning secondary offerings (changeup – .136 BAA and slider – .200 BAA).

Fantasy Outlook: Baker has closing experience, but it would take a lot for him to earn a significant share of saves for the Orioles. His first step toward the ninth inning is better command. I like the rise in his first-pitch strike rate (67), which may signify a more valuable relieving arm in 2024.



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About Shawn Childs 970 Articles
Shawn Childs has been a high stakes Fantasy baseball and football player since 2004 where he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). In early years of the high stakes market in Fantasy baseball, he was ahead of the curve in player evaluation, draft value, and free agent bidding setting up four top-five finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has four AL-only Auction titles, one NL-only title, and five Main Event titles plus an overall title in 2012 at RTFBC (netted $10,000). This success led to an induction into the NFBC Baseball Hall of Fame. His success in the high stakes market led to a career in providing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football content. On the football side, he’s competed and won in all different formats – auctions, draft championship, main events, and high-dollar leagues. He won 2nd place overall in the 2014 Most Accurate Salary Cap Expert contest at FantasyPros. As a dual-sport player, it was natural to transition to the daily games where he is a “swing for the fences type of guy.” Childs has appeared in one FanDuel NFL Live Final and one DraftKings NFL Live Final, a season-ending tournament which led to a couple of chances to win over $1,000,000.