Baltimore Orioles roster prediction: Starting rotation and bullpen.
There are a lot of unknown factors to consider when taking a shot at predicting this roster. What type of manager will Brandon Hyde be once the regular season gets rolling? What exactly is Mike Elias looking for out these players in 2019? We don’t know!
With that being said, let’s have some fun and see just how wrong I can be!
The first three names are locks, obviously. All three need to rebound in 2019 and could have multiple teams calling by this year’s trade deadline. For now, they form three-fifths of the Orioles rotation.
David Hess had a much better second half to his rookie season, recording a 3.81 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 11 appearances (as opposed to his 6.06 ERA/1.53 WHIP in the first half). His slider was effective (.227 average against/.193 XBA) and if he can produce a few more swings and misses, he can hold a spot and allow the younger arms to stay in the minors a bit longer.
I’m not putting Nate Karns in the starting rotation. After not pitching in the pros last season and logging just 45 innings in 2017, Karns seems better suited in the bullpen where he can rack up the strikeouts. Sorry, I forgot to mention- spoiler alert.
As far as Yefry Ramirez goes, I’m a huge fan. I’m not sure of what else he can prove in the minors and he is the type of player who can really benefit from the new analytical approach the Orioles are bringing to camp. His changeup is solid and there’s good movement on his fastball, he just needs to fine-tune his command.
This bullpen won’t stay intact very long. Givens and Bleier are locks, especially with Bleier appearing to be healthy. Araujo will hang around until his service requirement is met before being sent to the minors. After that, picking who makes the active roster was a little difficult.
Castro has a live arm with a 95-96 mph fastball and a slider and changeup which are effective at keeping the ball in the ballpark and runners off the basepaths. His strikeout and walk numbers are downright ugly but if he can turn these numbers around (15% K, 13% BB), Castro can be a dangerous reliever.
For the final two spots, we have Paul Fry and Tanner Scott. Fry quietly put together a solid rookie season. Appearing in 35 games, he recorded a 3.35 ERA (3.11 FIP), gave up just one home run, and struck out nearly nine hitters per game.
Mike Wright will be given every single opportunity to showcase his stuff since he is out of options, but can he outperform the other names on this list? Not likely. Armed with a fastball that averages 97 mph, Scott struck out 32% of hitters last season and posted a FIP two full runs lower than his ERA (3.40 FIP/5.40 ERA). Scott is dynamic and should breakout with Mike Elias and his team running the show.
Bonus names: Branden Kline will be on this roster before very long. I don’t know of a single Orioles fan who isn’t a fan of Kline, who could take Araujo’s spot on the roster once he has satisfied his Rule 5 time. Jimmy Yacabonis is also a candidate to break camp with the team. His slider is lethal but he has an option so he could begin the year in AAA while the new regime decides how best to utilize him.