5 Baltimore Orioles who are in danger of losing playing time

Philadelphia Phillies v Baltimore Orioles
Philadelphia Phillies v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Even with as good of a big league roster the Baltimore Orioles have, there is always room for improvement. There are certainly some guys on both sides of the ball that have underperformed and the Orioles' roster choices are compounded by the sheer amount of talent they have down in the minor leagues just waiting for an opportunity.

The latter is a great problem to have in a vacuum and definitely bodes well for the future, but that doesn't mean Baltimore doesn't have some tough choices coming up as to who will stay or go. With the trade deadline soon to force the Orioles' hand, here is a look at some Orioles whose playing time could be in jeopardy in the near future.

Ramon Urias

Despite the fact Urias has long been a glove-first infielder who struggles to impact the ball and doesn't get on base at a good clip, Baltimore has given Urias quite a bit of playing time over the last few years due to his defensive prowess. However, his perennial .700ish OPS is getting a lot harder to ignore.

Urias' problem is two-fold. First, the thing that Baltimore counts on him for — his defense at third base — has taken a step back as he has -3 Outs Above Average in the field this year and was similarly bad (if not worse) last year. With top prospect Coby Mayo back to destroying baseballs in the minor leagues after breaking a rib in May, there is less and less of an argument for Urias to see much playing time at all.

Cole Irvin

Irvin entered the 2024 season as a bit of a question mark. He mainly made Baltimore's roster because he was out of minor league options, but a strong month of May gave hope that perhaps he could be a part of the solution to the Orioles' injury woes in their rotation. However, the month of June has not been so kind.

In four starts this month, Irvin has posted a 4.84 ERA, including getting beat up by the Yankees in his last outing. A lot of the shine has worn off the right-hander. Given that the Orioles will almost certainly be in the market for at least one starting pitcher at the trade deadline while Albert Suarez has become quite valuable in the rotation, Irvin could end up being the odd man out if Baltimore makes an upgrade.

Cionel Perez

The cheap choice here would be Craig Kimbrel, given how often his outings have turned into adventures this season. However, his overall numbers have been good and the Orioles have done well to make sure to put the veteran in positions to succeed (and not overusing him since his rocky start). Instead, one name to keep an eye on for the bullpen chopping block is Cionel Perez.

Perez's 2.75 FIP suggests that he has gotten a bit unlucky in 2024, but it is tough to ignore that his production has trended in the wrong direction the last couple of years and he keeps being put in close games despite his 4.87 ERA this season. He also doesn't miss as many bats one would think for a guy that throws as hard as he does, and Baltimore could opt to upgrade to a reliever that can finish batters more effectively if Perez doesn't start performing better.

Cedric Mullins

This one is much more speculative than it was a couple of weeks ago as Mullins has looked better at the plate lately and the Orioles obviously love the guy even during his struggles. Over his last eight games, Mullins has a .345/.387/.552 line which is genuinely great (beyond the walk rate). However, the sum of the last two-plus seasons he has put together does seem to suggest that a change could be coming if he falls off again.

Mullins is a great defensive outfielder, but the fact remains that he has graded out very poorly as a hitter for the last few years especially when it comes to quality of contact. His average exit velocity has been mediocre at best and he has consistently ranked near the bottom in terms of expected wOBA, expected batting average, barrel %, and hard hit %. At some point, a guy is who he is and a team that is looking to contend like the Orioles can only ignore it for so long.

Colton Cowser

Assuming the Orioles don't cut bait with Mullins or even Austin Hays once his current heater comes to an end, Baltimore may have to start wondering a bit about Colton Cowser. While Cowser's defense in the outfield has been tremendous and a lot of his batted profile has looked great, there is cause for concern that his swing decisions are costing him and the Orioles dearly in 2024, especially in the month of June, during which he is hitting just .184.

When Cowser makes contact, good things happen as he is elite when it comes to barrels, hard hits, and average exit velocity. However, the problem is that he is striking out a third of the time he comes to the plate and is among the worst in the league when it comes to swing and miss. Assuming a world where Baltimore stands by their convictions with Mullins and Hays (which is debatable), Cowser's strikeout issues could result in him seeing less of the field down the stretch.

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