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Twelve Orioles Thoughts (roughly) one fifth of way through 2024 season

With the Orioles roughly one fifth of the way through the 2024 regular season and off to an outstanding 20-11 start entering the weekend, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Taking three out of four from the Yankees marked the 16th straight AL East series the Orioles have won (12) or split (four) with a 36-17 record in those division games. That only reinforces the early-season statement Brandon Hyde’s club made this week.

2. Gunnar Henderson being AL Player of the Month speaks for itself as the 22-year-old entered Friday leading the majors in homers and ranking in the AL’s top 10 in multiple categories. The rebuild brought multiple top five draft picks, but Henderson went 42nd overall in 2019. What a special talent.

3. Grayson Rodriguez going on the injured list as Kyle Bradish and John Means are returning reflects the unnerving state of pitching in today’s game. As Brandon Hyde stated this week, “You’re just hopeful. … You just don’t know what’s going to happen.” You can never have enough starting pitching. Fingers crossed. 

4. Look no further than Colton Cowser and Jordan Westburg for reasons to be optimistic when Jackson Holliday returns to the majors. After struggling dramatically last season, Cowser was just named AL Rookie of the Month. Meanwhile, Westburg now ranks second on the Orioles in WAR after an unremarkable rookie season.  

5. We’ll see whether Jacob Webb and Albert Suarez — both out of minor-league options — will even be on the club come September, but you need some contributions from unexpected sources in order to thrive over 162 games. Both are interesting bullpen arms at the moment. 

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6. Like most observers, I’ll argue Mike Elias needs to acquire at least one significant high-leverage reliever to maximize Baltimore’s October chances, but the Orioles rank ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA and fifth in bullpen WAR, per FanGraphs. Panic coming out of the Oakland series was a bit overblown. 

7. Speaking of numbers not lying, the Orioles entered Friday ranking eighth in the majors in starter innings. Philadelphia is first and still averages just under six innings per start (5.96). Starters going deep into games simply isn’t what we’re witnessing around baseball anymore — for better or worse.  

8. After finishing eighth in the AL (8.4%) last year, the Orioles are currently last out of 15 teams in walk rate (6.6%), which is quite surprising. I’d expect that to improve somewhat over time, but who would have predicted Ryan Mountcastle leading the club in walks in early May? 

9. Holliday’s demotion has meant more starts for Jorge Mateo and Ramon Urias. While Mateo just clubbed his first over-the-fence homer in over a year and has made a solid transition to second, Urias is 8-for-48 with two extra-base hits and one walk this season. The latter needs to get going.

10. Since his walk-off homer on April 17, Cedric Mullins is 6-for-41. Anthony Santander is 6-for-36 since his three-double game in Kansas City. I didn’t expect Heston Kjerstad to play much, but I’d still like to see Hyde use all his outfield options a little more, especially when Austin Hays returns. 

11. The Orioles are 11th in the majors in stolen bases, but they own the top steal success rate at 88.9%. You certainly don’t want to give away outs with the long-ball potential in this lineup, but swiping a few more bags could be in order. The team speed is evident. 

12. Nineteen of the first 31 games on the schedule have come against clubs currently holding winning records with Baltimore sporting a 14-5 mark in those contests and a 6-6 record against teams currently under .500. You can’t say the first-place Orioles are feasting on a light schedule. 

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