Baltimore Orioles 2024 Opening Day roster projection 3.0: Red hot outfielder snubbed

With Opening Day a mere ten days away, we project which players are favored to head north for the opener against the Angels

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Starting Pitchers: Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, Cole Irvin (5)

It appears safe to say that Burnes, Rodriguez, Kremer, and Wells are locked into the top four spots in the starting rotation. Despite struggling a bit this spring, Burnes has been announced as the Orioles' Opening Day Starter. Rodriguez, Kremer, and Wells will follow. The real question is: who will the fifth starter be before John Means is able to return? Cole Irvin appears to be the frontrunner, though he has struggled to a 6.23 ERA through three spring starts. Veteran Julio Teheran, who the Orioles signed earlier in camp, is in the running as well, though he has struggled to a 4.82 ERA in three starts (four total appearances) and may be better suited for the pen.

With Cade Povich and Chayce McDermott optioned and slated to begin the year in Triple-A Norfolk's rotation, the only other option appears to be someone from outside the organization. That could be someone acquired via trade (with Kyle Stowers, Ramon Urías, or even Ryan O'Hearn available) or, though less likely, someone signed in free agency. To be clear, while Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are still available on the free agent market, it's not fair to expect either of them to sign to play in Baltimore this year.

At the end of the day, the fifth spot remains Irvin's to lose until Means returns.

Relief Pitchers: Craig Kimbrel, Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe, Cionel Perez, Dillon Tate, Mike Baumann, Keegin Akin, Julio Teheran (8)

Several Orioles relievers have pitched well this Spring. Keegin Akin, Dillon Tate, Bryan Baker, and Mike Baumann have yet to allow a run. Nick Vespi has been solid, allowing only two runs over seven innings and striking out nine batters. Even Jonathan Heasley, quietly acquired in an offseason deal with KC, has pitched well.

But the Orioles will not just take the guys who pitched best this spring. Craig Kimbrel, Yennier Cano, Cionel Perez, and Danny Coulombe were locked into roles coming into the spring, leaving four available spots. Dillon Tate, who was one of the Orioles' most dependable relievers for years before an injury sidelined him for 2023, would have had to have pitched himself off the team to lose a role. He did not.

With the Orioles needing length out of their pen, especially with Wells and Irvin occupying the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, it only makes sense that former starters Teheran, Akin, and Baumann occupy the final three spots.

Just because these eight are projected to make the team out of spring training does not mean they will stay on the team if they struggle. For example, the Orioles will likely not hesitate to designate Teheran for assignment if he scuffles early, and bring up Heasley, Vespi, or even Bryan Baker to take his spot.

But as of now, this appears to be the most likely bullpen alignment going into Opening Day.

It bears repeating, however: much can happen between now and March 28, and much can happen after the season starts. While Ramon Urías and Ryan O'Hearn are currently on the projected roster, either one of them could be traded to free up at-bats for Mayo, Stowers, or Kjerstad. While Cole Irvin is penciled into the rotation now, John Means may return as early as April. And Kyle Bradish's rehab has progressed well so far, which may mean a return to the bullpen for Tyler Wells.

Who knows what will happen? This roster could be exactly right or compeltely wrong. That is what makes the end of spring training and the beginning of the new baseball season so exciting!

Ten more days!

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