2024 Baltimore Orioles Preview

An extensive fantasy baseball preview of the 2024 season

2024 Baltimore Orioles Preview

Shawn Childs is a legend in the fantasy baseball world and his advice is invaluable. A member of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn has several top-5 finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship as well as five NFBC auction championship titles under his belt. He also boasts several prominent in the high-stakes market and multiple huge DFS wins. Shawn’s process and evaluation are among the most thorough in the sport and his exclusive FPGscore metric is changing the game. This 2024 Baltimore Orioles preview and insight is courtesy of the brilliant mind of one of the sport’s best. 


This 2024 Baltimore Orioles Preview is courtesy of Shawn Childs. Read Shawn’s expert fantasy analysis at his Substack.

The Orioles came into last season with an over/under of 76.5 wins. They won the AL East with 101 victories while making the postseason for the first time since 2016. Since 1997, Baltimore has had one other division title (2014 – 96-66) with two other playoff appearances. The FullTime Fantasy 2024 Baltimore Orioles Preview showcases the upstart young birds. 

Their pitching staff ranked seventh in the majors in ERA (3.89) while finishing with the fifth-best bullpen in ERA (3.55). Their relievers had 44 wins, 21 losses, 49 saves, and 614 strikeouts over 575.1 innings. The Orioles allowed the fourth-lowest total in home runs (177) with the most innings pitched (1,354.1). 

Baltimore scored the seventh most runs (807), with the same ranking in RBIs (780). On the downside, they finished below the league average in home runs (183 – 17th). Their base stealers ran 138 times, leading to 114 stolen bases (82.6%). 

In the offseason, their top signing was RP Craig Kimbrel to help cover the loss of Felix Bautista, who had TJ surgery last October. The Orioles claimed OF Sam Hilliard off waivers to add power to their bench. Baltimore lost SP Kyle Gibson, SP Jack Flaherty, RP Jorge Lopez, OF Aaron Hicks, 2B Adam Frazier, RP Shintaro Fujinami, and RP Mychal Givens to free agency.

The top of the Orioles’ starting lineup has two rising stars (3B Gunnar Henderson and C Adley Rutschman), while SS Jackson Holliday looks poised to make the jump to the majors in 2024 at age 20. 1B Ryan Mountcastle, OF Cedric Mullins, OF Anthony Santander, and Austin Hays add veteran depth with upside. 

The future success of Baltimore lies in the development of SP Grayson Rodriguez and SP Kyle Bradish. SP John Means and Dean Kremer should be better in 2024 while offering competitive innings at the backend of the Orioles’ rotation. Tyler Wells showed growth last year while working primarily as a starting pitcher. Baltimore may need his arm on the bullpen this season.

The ninth inning won’t be as shutdown as 2023, but Craig Kimbrel has plenty of major league experience closing games. He has elite upside if Kimbrel throws more strikes and minimizes the damage in home runs. RP Yennier Cano posted the best season of his career at age 29, giving Baltimore some insurance to close out games. The Orioles hope P DL Hall can help in some fashion this year after giving their bullpen a boost over the final five weeks last year. His success and ceiling start with better command. 

This year, I’ll be looking at Mike Kurland’s new website (https://mlbplayingtime.com/) when doing some of my research for each major league team. His research is a reference point, but I’ll take my stances on how I view rosters as I go through each team’s outlook.

Starting Lineup

OF Cedric Mullins

Mullins was a waiver-wire darling in 2021, helping many fantasy teams win league and overall championships. He finished 10th in FPGscore (6.36) for hitters. 

In 2022, Mullins finished with almost the same opportunity in at-bats (602 and 608), but he failed to repeat in power despite a higher fly ball rate (43.6 – 41.1 in 2021). His HR/FB rate (7.7) was more than 50% lower than in 2021 (15.5) while failing in a range more in line with his previous career. Mullins saw a sharp decline in his average hit rate (1.561 – 1.781 in 2021) and contact batting average (.326 – .367 in 2021). On the positive side, he continued to have a better-than-league-average strikeout rate (18.8), with a step back in walks (7.0% – 8.7 in 2021). Despite his regression, Mullins was the 23rd most valuable hitter based on FPGscore (5.33). 

Last season, His bat lost value vs. lefties (.233) and righties (.233) while spending two lengthy stints on the injured list with a groin injury. After his first 48 games, Mullins hit .283 with 24 runs, eight home runs, 39 RBIs, and 13 steals over 177 at-bats, putting on pace for a 25/40 type year with 550 at-bats. His walk rate (11.8) and strikeout rate (16.3) over this stretch showed top-of-the-order success. Mullens was a lost soul over his final 153 at-bats (.190/18/6/27/5 with eight walks and 43 strikeouts). His one bright spot from last year was his success with runners on base (RBI rate – 22).

Mullins’s quest for more home runs led to a new top in his flyball rate (49.0 – 42.7 in his career), with only a slight uptick in his HR/FB rate (10.1 – 7.7 in 2021). His launch angle (21.6) was the highest of his career, with no changes in his overall exit velocity (88.9).

Fantasy Outlook: Injuries were a significant factor in the demise of Mullins over the final four months of 2023. He has the foundation skill set to hit higher in the batting order, but Mullins must lose some of his desire to smash home runs if he wants a better opportunity this season. In 2021, Baltimore hit him first in their lineup for 594 of his 602 at-bats (588 of 608 in 2022 and 186 of 404 in 2023). In the early draft season in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC), Mullins had an ADP of 139 as the 31st outfield selected. His combination of power and speed is helpful, but a lofty swing path does invite batting average risk. His starting point for me in 2024 is .250 with 75 runs, 15 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 25 steals, leaving wiggle room for higher stats across the board.

C Adley Rutschman

In 2022, Rutschman developed a triceps issue in his throwing arm, leading to him missing most of April. He hit .304 over 69 at-bats over three levels of the minors with 12 runs, three home runs, and 10 RBIs.

After a slow start over 126 at-bats with Baltimore (.206/15/3/9), Rutschman hit his stride over the final 79 games (.276 with 55 runs, 10 home runs, 33 RBIs, and three steals over 272 at-bats), highlighted by a bump in production in September (.270/17/5/17 over 115 at-bats). His swing offered emptiness vs. left-handed pitching (.174/9/1/5 over 98 at-bats). He finished the year with an elite walk rate (13.8) and a favorable strikeout rate (18.3). Rutschman hit 12 of his 13 home runs right of centerfield, but many of his hits went the other way. 

The expected edge by drafting didn’t reach the heights expected last year despite leading all catchers in plate appearances (687) and at-bats (588). Rutschman finished second in FPGscore (0.27 – 73rd most valuable hitter). His lack of steals (1) cost him a more impactful rating. He showed growth in his strikeout rate (14.7) while maintaining a high walk rate (13.4). His average hit rate (1.571) was below his previous resume, suggesting another gear in home runs. The supporting cast behind him in the batting order led to a step back in his run rate (33 – 42% in 2021 with Baltimore). 

Rutschman handled himself well vs. lefties (.304/25/6/24 over 158 at-bats). He has a line drive swing path (23.2%) while having a regression in his flyball rate (34.6) in 2023 despite the 70th-ranked launch angle (12.6) for batters with at least 350 plate appearances. His hard-hit rate (38.6) is trending slightly higher while sitting 86th in exit velocity.

Fantasy Outlook: Rutschman has another gear in his game while offering an edge in counting stats due to his playing time and slot in the batting order. He comes off the board in 2024 as the first catcher and the 34th-ranked hitter. A .300/100/30/100 season is within reach if the Orioles hitters in front of him and behind him in the batting order play better than in 2023. Many drafters won’t see the advantage of selecting a catcher early when solidifying aces, bullpen arms, and four-category players offer more value on the surface in team building.

SS Gunnar Henderson

Between AA, AAA, and the majors in 2022, Henderson hit .289 over 523 at-bats with 113 runs, 23 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. His approach at AA (41 walks and 38 strikeouts over 208 plate appearances) gave us a hint of his potential in Baltimore once he gets conformable at the plate. His walk rate (15.7) graded well in the minor in 2022 while posting an improved 23.1% strikeout rate (30.9 in 2021).

Henderson did see his groundball rate rise in 2022 when he moved from AA (40.2) to AAA (50.3) and the majors (59.8) while maintaining his HR/FB rate (17.8/20.8/20.0). His average hit rate (1.762) in pro ball supports a 30-home run floor. 

Over his first 50 games with Baltimore in his rookie season, Henderson looked overmatched at the plate (.201/28/5/14/2 over 154 at-bats), highlighted by his weakness in strikeout rate (31.0). He maintained his edge in walks (15.8%). His bat came alive over the final four months (.276/72/23/68/8 over 406 at-bats) by being more aggressive earlier in the count (walk rate – 6.2 and strikeout rate – 23.3). Henderson struggled with lefties (.210/20/3/11/4 over 148 at-bats).

His HR/FB rate (19.3) graded well, and he has a more balanced swing path (19/45/36). He finished 16th in exit velocity (92.0) and ninth in hard-hit rate (52.0) while still needing work on his launch angle (11.4 – 79th).

Fantasy Outlook: Henderson should be a buzz guy this year based on his growth and four-category skill set. He finished 2023 ranked 38th in FPGscore (2.42) for hitters. His ADP (32) in the high-stakes market in early January prices him as the 25th hitter off the board. Henderson should take more walks this year, but his overall profile fits better as a three-hole hitter over the long haul for Baltimore. An uptick in steals should be a given while owning the foundation to push higher in power. I’m torn on his value in batting average unless his contact batting average (.358) with the Orioles approaches his minor league level (.402). At the very least, a 90/30/90/20 season should be in the cards with a chance to secure a neutral batting average. 

1B Ryan Mountcastle

Mountcastle has about three full seasons under his major league belt, leaving the fantasy market disappointed in back-to-back years after breaking through with 33 home runs and 89 RBIs in 2021. Last year, I was bullish on an uptick in batting average and power. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed after two months (.234/33/11/38/2 over 227 at-bats) when he landed on the injured list for a month with a battle with vertigo. Upon returning to the starting lineup after the All-Star break, he hit .353 over his next 139 at-bats with 24 runs, seven home runs, and 25 RBIs. Mountcastle suffered a left shoulder injury on September 13th, leading to an empty September (.220/6/0/3 over 41 at-bats).

Ultimately, his strikeout rate (22.8) was respectable, with about a league-average walk rate (7.9). He mashed lefties (.338/27/12/35 over 142 at-bats) while having his worst season vs. right-handed pitching (2.35/37/6/33 over 281 at-bats). Mountcastle had a rebound in his contract batting average (.361) while remaining well below his minor league career (.374).

His ground ball rate (43.7 – 38.9 in his career) was a three-year high, leading to fewer flyballs (36.8%). He had a slight rebound in his HR/FB rate (15.1). Mountcastle has a rising exit velocity (91.4) but a declining launch angle (12.0 – 16.3 in 2021). His best data point in his major league career has been his RBI rate (17.4), supporting a middle-of-the-batting-order opportunity. 

Fantasy Outlook: Mountcastle starts the year at age 27 while failing into the have-nots as a potential fantasy first baseman or corner infield option. In the first week of January, he was the 24th-ranked player at his position with an ADP of 245 (149th batter selected). Some will view him as a platoon player due to his success vs. lefties and Ryan O’Hearn playing the best ball of his career against right-handed pitching (.297/43/12/58 over 329 at-bats) in 2023. I’d like to see Mountcastle’s AC joint cleaned up via surgery, but that won’t happen over the winter unless he has a setback. I’d keep an open mind (.275/80/25/80), as the fourth slot in the Orioles’ batting order should be a winning opportunity. His overall ceiling is higher than Anthony Santander’s.

OF Anthony Santander

Over the previous four seasons, Santander finished with strength in his average hit rate (2.200, 1.796, 1.891, and 1.836), supporting a 30-home run hitter with 550 at-bats. Baltimore gave him a full-time starting opportunity for the first time in his career in 2022 with follow-through last season. He hit .249 over his previous 1,165 at-bats with 159 runs, 61 home runs, 184 RBIs, and five stolen bases. 

Santander posted a five-year high in contact batting average (.346) last season, leading to a rebound in his batting average (.257) while improving with runners on pace (RBI rate – 17). His walk rate (8.4) beat the league average for the second consecutive year, with some pullback in his strikeout rate (23.2 – 21.0 in his career). 

After a dull first 25 games (.213/8/2/11 over 94 at-bats), his bat popped in May (.337/18/7/22 over 101 at-bats) with another uptick in August (.276/14/8/21 over 87 at-bats). Baltimore gave him 553 of his 591 at-bats hitting third and fourth in the batting order. 

A significant part of his failure in batting average is tied to his high flyball rate (49.7) and his spike infield flyballs (18.2%). Santander had a step back in his HR/FB rate (12.7). His hard-hit rate (46.0) was a career-best, with a top-tier launch angle (20.2 – 5th).

Fantasy Outlook: There is no doubt that Santander is an improving player with plenty of power and a reasonable approach. He does bring some batting average risk. His success last year ranked 49th by FPGscore (1.56) for hitters. Santander is the 89th batter off the board as the 31st outfielder. With 150 starts, he has the swing to hit more home runs with help in runs and RBIs, but I don’t consider him a slam dunk to reach a higher ceiling.

OF Austin Hays

In 2022, Hays missed time on three occasions due to hand (cut from being spikes), wrist, and oblique issues, but he avoided the injury list. Despite finishing with the most at-bats (535) of his career, his bat had regression across the board, highlighted by less production in runs (66), batting average (.250), home runs (16), and RBIs (60). His strikeout rate (19.6) and walk rate (5.8) improved slightly from 2021 (20.2/5.3).

Even with a similar opportunity last season, his average hit rate (1.615) regressed again, with a step back in his strikeout rate (24.9 – career-high). Hays had a jump in his contact batting average (.377) while having more success with runners on base (RBI rate – 15). His best play came over his first 275 at-bats (.316/42/8/34/2) while not having any difference-maker months in any area. 

His swing path has been about the same over the last three seasons. Hays had an uptick in his hard-hit rate (40.1), with a slight pullback in his launch angle (10.4). He finished 96th in FPGscore (-1.25) for hitters.

Fantasy Outlook: Three full seasons into his major league career, he has yet to flash minor league potential (.285 with 197 runs, 66 home runs, 211 RBIs, and 234 stolen bases over 1,332 at-bats). Hays has an ADP of 298 in the high-stakes market in the early draft season. A jump in home runs seems viable, but I don’t see a reason to fight for him in drafts unless his price slides. I’ll set his bar at 75/20/70/5 with a neutral batting average, which beats expectations based on his price point. 

2B Jordan Westburg

The Orioles selected Westburg as the 30th player in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft. In his first season in the minors, he hit .285 with 74 runs, 15 home runs, 79 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases over 424 at-bats. Westburg played better in his time at AAA (.283 with 121 runs, 36 home runs, 128 RBIs, and 15 steals over 630 at-bats) than his two stints at AA (.242/47/13/46/6 over 294 at-bats). 

Last year, after a hot start at AAA (.295/57/18/54/6 over 268 at-bats), Baltimore promoted him to the majors in late June. Westburg didn’t stand out in his time with the Orioles, but he did gain experience. His best month came in August (.269/10/1/10/2 over 78 at-bats). He had more success against lefties (.284 with seven runs, one home run, and five RBIs).

His strikeout rate (24.6) and walk rate (7.0) came in below the league average, with both being below his career minor league resume (strikeout rate – 23.7 and walk rate – 11.9). Westburg showed growth in his average hit rate (1.924) last year at AAA, but his bat lost momentum in this area with Baltimore (1.556). His hard-hit rate (44.5) graded well, with a reasonable floor in his exit velocity (90.2) 

Fantasy Outlook: Westburg split time in the minors between second, third, and shortstop over the past two seasons. The Orioles will give him a shot at winning their second base job, but he isn’t a lock to play every day without more pop in his bat. With 500 at-bats, 25+ home runs, and double-digit steals are within reach. For now, a reserve-round player in 15-team leagues with questionable value in three categories (runs, RBIs, and SBs). At the very least, Westburg is viable follow in spring training. 

1B Ryan O’Hearn

Over his first five years with Kanas City, O’Hearn hit .219 over 960 at-bats with 99 runs, 38 home runs, and 131 RBIs, making him a below-average replacement player. His walk rate (9.2) was an asset while striking out too much (26.8%). 

In 2023, O’Hearn flashed over 11 games at AAA (.354/11/4/13 over 48 at-bats), leading to Baltimore calling him up in early May. The injury to Ryan Mountcastle gave him a rotational opportunity over the final four months (.290/43/12/47/5 over 303 at-bats). O’Hearn was a much better hitter with runners on base (RBI rate – 21) while posting a career-best contact batting average (.379). Even with an uptick in power, his average hit rate (1.660) didn’t jump off the page. Baltimore gave him minimal chances vs. lefties (.192 over 26 at-bats with two home runs).

The progression of his swing was highlighted by hitting higher than .266 each month while also playing well against right-handed pitching (.297/43/12/58 over 320 at-bats). His strikeout rate (22.3) was the lowest of his career, but O’Hearn took fewer walks (4.1% – 7.9 in his career). O’Hearn had a spike in his barrel rate (10.1), and his hard-hit rate (51.5) reached an elite area.

Fantasy Outlook: The story for O’Hearn in 2024 will be fact or fiction. His bat and thought process were in a much better place last year, earning him a potential righty platoon opportunity this year. I don’t view him as a straight split option at first base. The Orioles will give him at-bats in the outfield and DH. His early ADP (569) in the high-stake market puts him in the free-agent pool in all formats. His early-season approach will dictate his fantasy potential this year. 

SS Jorge Mateo

For the wise guys fishing for late speed in 2022, Mateo ended up being that player. He led the American League in steals (35), but there was a downside cost to investing in him before the All-Star break (.205 with 32 runs, seven home runs, 23 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases). His play improved in August (.277/15/4/17/4 over 94 at-bats), adding hope that Mateo would push his game higher the following season. He finished the year ranked 56th in FPGscore (-1.27) while helping fantasy teams gain 4.72 points in roto standings in steals. 

Last season, Mateo kicked in the fantasy door in April (.347/21/6/17/10 over 72 at-bats), but his bat ended up being worthless over the final five months (.179/37/1/17/22 over 246 at-bats). Baltimore did give him rotational at-bats (127) vs. lefties (.276/25/3/23/20).

His strikeout rate (23.4) and walk rate (6.3) were the best of his career. Despite more power on his minor league resume (19 home runs at AAA in 2019), Mateo continues to rank poorly in barrel rate (5.3) and exit velocity (87.2). His launch angle (10.4) was well below 2022 (14.8).

Fantasy Outlook: Mateo has much to prove this year, and he looks like only a placeholder for Baltimore for Jackson Holliday. His only asset is speed, which is challenging to time when Mateo can’t get on base. I can’t dismiss a helpful run out of the gate, so an early season starting job could warrant a waiver wire bid in early April. Last year, he had a five-year low in his contact batting average (.292).

Bench Options


SS Jackson Holliday

Over the past few seasons, multiple players have reached pro ball whose Fathers played in the majors – Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Witt, and Bo Bichette. Each player brought an All-Star skill set, and Holliday fits into the same realm. Baltimore added the son of Matt Holliday with the first overall pick in 2022.

After short at-bats (64) in his first minor league season (.297/14/1/9/4), his Holliday pushed his way through four levels in 2023. He hit .333 over 402 at-bats between High A and AA with 96 runs, 11 home runs, 67 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. Baltimore had him close out the season at AAA (.267/18/2/91) over his final 75 at-bats. Holliday showcased a top-of-the-order walk rate (17.3) while beating the league average in his strikeout rate (20.6). He tends to have a line drive swing path with weakness in his flyball rate.

Fantasy Outlook: When reviewing some fantasy sites for the batting order for Baltimore in 2024, they have Gunnar Henderson leading off. I’m not sure Holliday will make the team out of spring training, but he has the best tools on the team to bat leadoff for many years. He takes walks, hits for average, and will steal some bags. Once he fills out, Holliday will have a more rounded skill set. His ADP (207) in the high-stakes market says he’ll hit the ground running this year. He has some similarities to Bo Bichette while trailing him by a couple of seasons in development. Call me intrigued, but it’s all about my team build and his momentum in spring training.

OF Heston Kjerstad

Baltimore added Kjerstad with the second selection in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft, but they had to wait until 2022 for him to make his minor debut due to a heart issue. Over his first two seasons in the minors, over four levels, he hit .305 with 132 runs, 26 home runs, 92 RBIs, and six steals over 722 at-bats. Last year, Kjerstad handled himself well at AAA (.298/57/10/32/2 over 295 at-bats), giving him a 30 at-bat experience in Baltimore.

His strikeout rate (19.8) was better than the league average, with a slight edge in his walk rate (8.5). Kjerstad projects to have upside in power, but a high leg kick could lead to some timing issues in the majors.

Fantasy Outlook: Baltimore hopes Kjerstad is ready to help in the majors. His overall skill set projects higher than Ryan O’Hearn while handling himself well last year vs. lefties (.302 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs) in the minors. I view him as a viable AL-only low-dollar player who draws a UT-only tag out of the gate in the NFBC. With 450 at-bats, Kjerstad has 20/60 potential, making him an early-season following if the Orioles give him starting at-bats.

OF Colton Cowser

Cowser is another Orioles player with a first-round draft pedigree (fifth overall in 2021). He had a sensational final year at Sam Houston State (.374/61/16/52/17 over 203 at-bats) while taking more walks (42) than strikeouts (32).

Over his three seasons in the minors, Cowser hit .298 with 216 runs, 38 home runs, 162 RBIs, and 34 stolen bases over 953 at-bats. He has a full year of playing time under his belt at AAA (.280/95/22/73/9 over 428 at-bats). Cowser has a winning walk rate (14.7) at AAA while needing to clean up his strikeouts (27.7%). He posted an elite contact batting average (.438) when putting the ball in play in the minors.

Fantasy Outlook: At a quick glance, a drafter will be intrigued by his ability to hit for average with supporting power and speed. Unfortunately, he can keep a starting job in Baltimore without making better contact. His HR/FB rate projects well, but Cowser tends to have a weakness in his flyball rate. At this point of his career, I don’t view him as a trusted asset while understanding he does have the tools to help the Orioles when swinging the bat well.

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.

Cano’s 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.

This 2024 Baltimore Orioles Preview is courtesy of Shawn Childs. Read Shawn’s expert fantasy analysis at his Substack

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.