MLB Team News & Rumors: Baltimore

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Baltimore Orioles

The #8 World Ranked High Stakes Fantasy Baseball Player, Shawn Childs, breaks down every team to help you prep for your big draft!

Baltimore Orioles Team Projection

After going through the Orioles batters yesterday, it's time to analyze their starting rotation and bullpen.

1. SP Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman fantasy baseball

Tillman has done a nice job for the Orioles over the last 3 seasons (38-16 with a 3.42 ERA). Even with growth in his ERA (3.34) and HR/9 rate (0.9), Chris wasn't an easy ride in 2014. After a solid start in April (3-1 with a 3.38 ERA), Tillman lost his command in May (20 walks in 38 innings - 4.7 per 9), which led to a poor ERA (5.68). He battled his way in June, but 8 strikeouts in 29 innings left fantasy players wondering if there was an underlying injury. Chris went 6-2 over his last 17 starts with a 2.58 ERA and 88 K's in 108.3 innings (7.3 K rate), which was above his career average (6.8). His 1st pitch strike rate (57.7 %) was a career high, but it is still well below the elite pitchers in the game. His AFB (90.7) has declined in his last 2 years (92.4 in 2012 and 91.6 in 2013). His approach against batters was in line with his previous 4 seasons. Tillman throw a curveball as his #2 pitch followed by a solid changeup and an occasional cutter. Early in the year, the velocity on his breaking ball was under 83 mph, which looks like the key reason for his lack of command and K's early in the year. Possible undervalued arm with his biggest asset being his ability to win games. Tillman really needs to improved velocity in spring training.

2. SP Kevin Gausman

Kevin Gausman fantasy baseball

Gausman was passed over for a starting job in April, which led to him starting the year at AAA. He was bombed in a spot start in mid May (5 runs and 8 base runners in 4 innings) that pushed back his arrival in the majors until June 7th. Kevin had a 3.32 ERA in 43.3 inning at AAA with 44 K's. Over his last 19 starts in the majors, Gausman allowed 3 runs or less 16 times (3.29 ERA) with 86 K's in 107.3 innings. His biggest weakness at this point of is career is his command vs. LH batters (29 walks in 65.3 innings - 4.0 per 9). His first pitch strike rate (56.8 %) is in a weak area and his overall strike rate (61.6 %) needs to improve. His AFB (94.8) is in a very good area. His #2 pitch is a split finger fastball followed by a weak breaking pitch. Kevin has shown plus command (2.1 BB/9) in his minor league career. This asset will help him progress quickly in the majors. He has 2 plus pitches with solid command. His next step in his development is a tighter breaking ball. Sub 3.00 ERA with 15+ wins in 2015. Last year he threw 158.7 combined innings so 200 innings is well within reach this year.

3. SP Wei-Yin Chen

Wei-Yin Chen fantasy baseball

Chen was an important part of the Orioles success in 2014. He had excellent command (1.7 BB/9) with an improving fastball (91.8 - career high). He throws a slider as his #2 pitch with a solid changeup and decent curveball. Over the last 4 months of the year, Wei-Yen had a 3.10 ERA with 96 K's in 127.7 innings. He went threw a rough patch in May and June when he allowed 14 HR's in 63.3 innings. RH batters hit 20 HR's in 546 at bats. Solid steady lefty pitching in what was once considered the toughest hitting division in baseball. Chen will be a free agent next season so he should be motivated to pitch well. Solid steady backend option with possibly of slight more upside.

4. SP Bud Norris

Bud Norris fantasy baseball

Norris had his best season in his major league career in 2014. He had his best ERA (3.65, lowest walk rate (2.8), most wins (15), and best whip (1.216). Bud battled a groin injury in late June, which forced him to miss about 3 weeks of the season. Norris has two electric months (June - 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA and September - 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA). Over the last 3 months, he went 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA with 9.3 K's per 9. His AFB (93.4) was his highest since 2010. Bud throws a slider as his 2nd best pitch followed by an improving changeup and a show me cutter. Norris had some growth against LH batters (.255 - .315 in 2013) as a result of less walks. Bud led the AL in hit batters (14). Norris is trending upward with upside in K's if he can add length to his starts. The AL East will keep some fantasy players away, but he did pitch very well at home (8-2 with a 2.44 ERA - 4.80 on the road).

5. SP Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez fantasy baseball

Jimenez failure in 2014 was easy to read, but he was still able to sucker the Orioles into giving him a 4 year $50 million contract. Ubaldo pitched poorly in his first 5 starts (6.59 ERA and 1.829 whip) before showing a spark over 3 starts in early May (1 run in 19.7 innings with 20 K's), but his lack of command (77 walks in 125.3 innings) and decline in velocity (90.5 - career low) led to him being pulled from the rotation after the All Star break. His fastball has declined in each of the last 4 years (96.1 in 2009 and 2010). He added a split finger fastball (3rd best pitch) in 2013 at the expense of his changeup, which helped him have a career high K rate (9.6). Last year his strikeouts (8.3 per 9) were in line with his career average. Jimenez throws a slider as his 2nd best pitch plus a slow curve and show me changeup. His biggest decline in command was against LH batters (53 of 77 walks in 318 plate appearances). When Ubaldo was at his best, he threw harder and induced more ground balls. He struggles to get ahead of batters (55 % 1st pitch strikes) with declining velocity. This year his price point will be just about free so there is a lot less risk if you decide to buy. Ubaldo could be a ticking time bomb so a smart fantasy player will stay away. Possible semi bounce back if his delivery was really the cause of his sharp decline.

6. SP Miguel Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez fantasy baseball

Gonzalez continues to give the Orioles solid innings for a backend starter. Over the past 3 season, he is 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA. His AFB (91.0) was a slight tick down from his previous 2 years (91.4). Miguel's curveball gained value in 2014 (at the expense of his changeup), which gave him 3 decent secondary pitches (slider and changeup). His command still needs to improve against lefties (32 of 51 walks) and he can struggle with HR's at times (1.4 per 9 in 2014). His skill set seemed to make a step forward after the All Star break last year (6-4 in 11 starts with a 2.19 ERA), but his K rate (5.4) did decline. His success was due to better command. Overall, Gonzalez lacks electric upside, but he shown to have a more dependable arm than Jimenez over the last 3 seasons. There are $50 million reason why he will start the year in the bullpen. Nice fill in pitcher when he is rhythm with low upside. His strand rate has been above the league average over the last 3 years, which inflated his ERA.

7. SP Dylan Bundy

Dylan Bundy fantasy baseball

Bundy missed all of 2013 after blowing out his elbow in March. He tried platelet-rich plasma injections in late April, but he ended up needing TJ surgery in late June. Dylan returned to the mound at low A in early June in 2014. He finished with 9 starts at A ball (1-3 with a 3.27 ERA with 37 K's in 41.3 innings). He appeared over matched when he made 6 starts at High A (4.78 ERA with a high walk rate {4.4} and low K rate {5.1}. With a full offseason to recover, Bundy should be ready to push his way up the Orioles system. His innings will be limited this season so I would temper my 2015 expectations. Upside arm to watch, but he will have little if any value in the majors.

8. CL Zach Britton

Zach Britton fantasy baseball

Britton pitched very well over the first 6 weeks of the season (2 runs in 21.3 innings), which gave him a chance at the 9th inning when Hunter went down with an injury. Zach converted 37 of 41 chances while almost being unhittable (.178 BAA). He had almost equal success against righties (.182) and lefties (.170), but most of his walks (18) and all of his HR's (4) were to RH batters. Britton didn't allow an extra base hit to a LH batter all season. Batters hit an incredible 75.3 % ground balls with only 11.9 % being fly balls. His HR/FB rate (17.4 %) was a bit ugly, but the low volume of FB's makes it almost a none factor. His AFB (95.1) jumped by 3.5 mph after the switch to the bullpen. Zach threw his fastball 91.5 % of the time. He threw a slider as his only other pitch. As a starter, Britton incorporated a changeup. His final 2014 stats are very attractive, but his dependency on one pitch could be a problem if he loses command. His 1st pitch strike rate (55.1 %) could get him in trouble down the road. Decent investment, but I would keep an open mind if walks become an issue early in the year.

9. RP Tommy Hunter

Tommy Hunter fantasy baseball

Last year Hunter was doing a nice job in the 9th inning over the first 5 weeks of the season (10 for 11 in saves with a 2.84 ERA). He blew up over a 4 games stretch in mid May (8 runs and 12 base runners over 3.3 innings), which led to him losing his job. Tommy went on the DL for 3 weeks in last May with a groin injury. Over the last 4 months of the year, Hunter had a 1.83 ERA with 1 HR allowed over his last 44.3 innings. His results were closer worthy, but Britton showed no cracks to give him another shot at saves. His AFB (96.1) was elite for the 2nd straight season. His #2 pitch is a curveball followed by a declining cutter. Tommy showed growth against lefties (.245 - .294 with 11 HR's in 2013). His HR rate (0.6) was much improved thanks to a career high GB rate (50.8 %). Hunter lacks a plus strikeout pitch, but he has a big enough fastball with plus command to pitch in the 9th inning. I would buy him as insurance for Britton in 2015.

10. RP Darren O'Day

Darren O

O'Day has been an excellent reliever for the Orioles over the last 3 seasons (17-6 with 6 saves and a 2.06 ERA). His AFB (87.3) was a career high, but it remains well below major league standards. Darren is a side arm pitcher with a plus slider, which he throws 43.5 % of the time. He is very good against RH batters (.164 in 2014 - .193 in his career) and he was much improved against lefties (.189) last year. His GB rate (44.6 %) was his highest since 2008. Winning player with an improving skill set, but his lack of a plus fastball hurts his chance at pitching in the 9th inning long term.

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