Opponent Preview | Baltimore Orioles

The Reds (16-15) return to Great American Ball Park after the 2-4 road trip to face the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles (20-11).

  • Friday (6:10 PM): Hunter Greene v. Cole Irvin
  • Saturday (6:40 PM): Andrew Abbott v. John Means
  • Sunday (4:10 PM): Nick Lodolo v. Dean Kremer

The Reds are in the midst of a grueling 32-game stretch, which includes matchups against last year’s World Series participants, the Rangers (3 games) and the Diamondbacks (6 games). Fourteen games are against teams that Fangraphs currently has over a 75% chance of making the playoffs, and none have less than a 30% chance. They will look to bounce back after losing back-to-back series to the Rangers and Padres. The Orioles come in after taking three of four from the New York Yankees to take sole possession of the AL East lead.

Position Players

The Orioles will bring the top offense in the American League to Cincinnati this weekend with a team wRC+ of 116 (a weighted runs created 16% higher than the league average). A league-leading 45 home runs is a significant contributor to their early success. Baltimore built their lineup through the draft, with four former first-round and one second-round picks, and this is not including MLB’s number one prospect, Jackson Holliday, who was sent back down to AAA after a 2-for-34 start at the plate.

The projected starting lineup on Friday will have two players with a wRC+ under the league average (Ramon Urias – 23, Cedric Mullins – 97). Reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Gunnar Henderson will lead off and leads the team with ten home runs and six stolen bases. 

After seeing Henderson, Adley Rutschman is due up with an xBA in the 93rd percentile (.310) and xSLG in the 87th percentile (.502). The lineup continues in this fashion, as you can see above. This includes the three former first-round picks in the 5-8 holes, with Cowser and Westburg in rookie-eligible seasons. Cowser already has six of his Fangraph’s projected thirteen home runs and currently holds a wRC+ 64% higher than the league average. 


The Reds will find little relief at the plate as the Orioles boast the tenth-best FIP (sixth in xFIP) in the league at 3.81. Fortunately, the Reds will avoid the familiar ace of the Orioles’ staff, Corbin Burnes, and see the back end of the rotation. Burnes is currently 3-1, holding a 2.61 ERA (2.90 xERA). 

Probable Starters

Cole Irvin has thrown his curveball more than any other pitch this year at a 26.2% clip. Irvin will mix the curveball with four seam, sinkers, and cut fastballs. Along with the cutter, Irvin will throw a changeup primarily to left-handed batters. In his second year with Baltimore, the lefty is posting an xBA in the 27th percentile, a strikeout percentage in the 11th percentile, and a whiff rate in the bottom two percent across the league. Irvin currently holds a 50% groundball rate, well above his career rate of 39%, and relies on soft contact. However, he currently has a hard-hit rate just under the league average, leading to the 4.21 xERA.

John Means will be making his season debut on Saturday, coming off a forearm injury. The lefty started two games in 2022 before needing Tommy John surgery, wiping out the rest of his seasons and all but four starts of 2023. He was shut down before the playoffs last year due to elbow soreness. 

Means primarily works off a fastball that sits in the low 90s in combination with a changeup. This combination has made up almost 75% of his pitches in the past, but he will also work in a knuckle curve and slider. In his limited work last year, Means also had a low strikeout and whiff rate of 11.4% and 16.4%, respectively. Fangraphs projects an ERA of 4.26 and a FIP of 4.47. 

Dean Kremer has opened 2024 with a 2-2 record and over a run and a half gap between his ERA (4.19) and his xERA (5.70). While his strikeout (22.1%) and whiff rate (23.2%) are higher than Means and Irvin, they are still below the league average. Kremer will mix a four-seam fastball that sits around 93 mph and a cutter for over 60% of his pitches. Kremer introduced a split-finger to his arsenal this year, which is generating a whiff rate of over 35% and a batting average of just .056. He has thrown the splitter about 14% of the time this year, primarily to lefties, but will mix it into righties as well.


The closer Craig Kimbrel anchors the Orioles’ bullpen and already has seven saves on the year. Below is the current depth chart of Baltimore’s bullpen and their 2024 stats so far.


The Orioles are coming in with the most complete lineup the Reds have seen so far this year. While some of the Orioles’ individual offensive prowess is part of a more significant trend and seems sustainable, like Rutschman and Henderson, several are playing well above career and projected numbers. Having only lost two series this year, they are cruising. However, those two series losses came from fellow NL Central teams, the Pirates and Brewers. The Reds will need to take advantage of seeing the back of the rotation and see good outings from their young core of pitchers to continue the trend.

Chris Duzyk

Chris began his Reds fandom with family trips from central Kentucky to Riverfront Stadium. At a young age, he had to learn to swing a wiffle ball bat left handed to properly imitate Ken Griffey Jr. and Sean Casey in backyard games against his brother. A graduate from Centre College, he was able to combine his love of baseball statistics and analytics often into his statistics and econometrics courses. He currently is living in Northern Kentucky where all it takes is a simple walk across the bridge to enjoy the games. Find him on Twitter @cduzyk.