The playoffs are so close that the Orioles and their fans can taste it. The Birds will be hosting the American League Division Series in less than two weeks. But who will take the field for those Orioles? Manager Buck Showalter will be forced to cut down his bloated roster to 25 lucky representatives. Will there be any surprises?
These are the guys you can count on being there. Most likely, they were Orioles on Opening Day and will be there when the season comes to a close.
-UTIL Steve Pearce - He may prove to be the lone representative from #teamSteve. That is, if his hand heals up.
-SS J.J. Hardy - As long as his back has calmed down, he is a no-brainer pick.
-OF Adam Jones - He is the face of the franchise and Camden Chat's Most Valuable Oriole.
-OF Nelson Cruz - The biggest power threat on the team and the media's MVO.
-OF Nick Markakis - The longest-tenured O will finally get his first taste of playoff action.
-RHP Chris Tillman - The Opening Day starter is likely your Game One pitcher as well.
-LHP Wei-Yin Chen - As steady as they come and he has playoff experience.
-RHP Miguel Gonzalez - Though his last two starts have not been great, he seems to find a way to rise to the occasion.
-RHP Bud Norris - At times, he was the best starter on the team. He is always one of the most competitive.
-LHP Zach Britton - The closer has been a revelation. Great Britton.
-LHP Andrew Miller - He was the big acquisition at the deadline and he has not disappointed.
-RHP Darren O'Day - Despite recent struggles, he is still, statistically, one of the best relief pitchers in the game.
That is a list of 12 gentlemen that will definitely be on the roster for the ALDS. It breaks down as five hitters and seven pitchers. There are 13 spots left to fill.
The Second Wave
These guys are really close to being locks. They could easily be bumped up to the first-tier of players but some could make the argument that, with stellar play from those beneath them, they could fall out of favor, but most likely not. They will be there come October.
-OF Alejandro De Aza - He is the most well-rounded option for the O's in left field.
-OF Delmon Young - This guy is a stud as a pinch hitter, could be key in October.
-INF Jonathan Schoop - The rookie has had his ups and downs. Still the best option at second.
-C Caleb Joseph - He is the #1 backstop thanks to his stellar defense.
-INF Ryan Flaherty - Showalter loves him, he can play some defense and he is the only real backup for Hardy.
-RHP Kevin Gausman - His power arm could be a weapon in the playoffs and he needs to gain the experience.
-RHP Tommy Hunter - The big righty has been great in September.
-RHP Brad Brach - He has been a surprising contributor in 2014. Righties bat .189 against him.
So, that is eight more positions filled, bringing the grand total to 20 (10 pitchers, 10 hitters). I'm no math major but that leaves five vacant spots with three likely to go to hitters and the other two being arms.
Nick Hundley or Steve Clevenger
Since the O's traded for him back on May 24, Hundley has been a reliable backup to Joseph. At certain points, Showalter has played Hundley several days in a row as his bat was hot. His defense is passable.
The Orioles seem to like Clevenger's bat a lot and that was the reason he made the Major League roster to begin the season. However, he failed to impress at the plate and caught only 15% of base-stealers from behind it.
Winner: Hundley - He is the veteran and plays better defense than Clevenger; something Showalter values everywhere on the diamond.
Kelly Johnson, Jimmy Paredes or Christian Walker
Johnson was part of the late-August barrage of moves made by Dan Duquette. He has shown to have a nice bat in the past, but he has been pretty awful in 2014 no matter where he has played. For the season he is hitting .209 and is questionable in the field.
Who thought Paredes would bat third for the Orioles this year? Well, he did that on September 12 against the Yankees. The guy has also had two home runs, four doubles and a walk-off for the Birds. He is shaky with the leather, but the guy can hit a little and has some speed.
The rookie Walker is a long shot. It seems like he was only brought up to give Pearce a rest as his bumps and bruises heal. However, it's always possible that #teamSteve is having bigger issues than we know. That could open the door for Walker who hit his first Major League home run earlier this week.
Winner: Paredes - He has been one of the most exciting players on the field at times. There is a reason the O's acquired him twice this season. I see a possible pinch-hitting appearance in the playoffs.
David Lough or Quintin Berry
Lough was expected to contend for a lot of starts in left field in 2014. While he has appeared in 109 games to this point, more often than not, he has been relegated to "defensive replacement" duty in the late innings. He is fantastic in the field, but his bat just cannot compete with the likes of Cruz and Young. He has some speed but has only been successful on 7-of-12 stolen base attempts.
Berry is fast; very, very fast. But if he isn't on the basepaths, Showalter isn't playing him. That said, his base-running could be enough to earn him a spot on the roster for the ALDS. For his career, including regular and post season, he is 30-for-30 on stolen base attempts. The Red Sox utilized that one skill of his en route to the World Series a year ago.
Winner: Lough - This is a very tough call. In a short period of time, Berry could very well be the difference in a series win, but the Orioles don't run a lot. Showalter isn't going to change his philosophy on baseball. Not to mention, Lough is the superior defender.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland, Evan Meek, Joe Saunders and Ryan Webb
Oh Ubaldo. Birdland wants you to be good so badly. Buck wants you to do well. The Dominican right-hander earned the win to send Baltimore to the playoffs. But he has been bad this year as a starter and really struggled coming out of the bullpen. Ya just walk too many guys, man.
Matusz has not been as dominant against lefties in 2014 as he once was. However, they are still hitting just .228 against the southpaw. Righties are hitting .283. It looks like he will be the LOOGY in the 'pen.
How in the world is McFarland's ERA under three? He throws such fluff up to the plate. I'm not sure what he is doing, but his last six appearances have been scoreless despite righties hitting .321 against him; lefties, .272. His ERA+ is 135 and his FIP is 3.30. He is doing something right.
Meek was really good in Spring Training and early April, and we here at Camden Chat would like to thank him for his service, but he should be nowhere near this playoff roster.
If it were 2012, everyone would be singing the praises of Saunders. He was a major factor in the Orioles getting to the ALDS back then. He was great against the Rangers in the first ever wild card game, but he stinks now. In four games with the O's, his ERA is 33.75. That's not a typo.
Webb has been streaky. He spent all of August wih Triple-A Norfolk after having a rough July in Baltimore. Since being recalled, Showalter has given him ample opportunities to earn a spot on the postseason roster He hasn't shown well, pitching to 4.26 ERA over seven appearances.
Winners: Matusz - He is the only pitcher that profiles as a LOOGY. Miller can get lefties out no problem, but he is best used late in games for an entire inning.
McFarland - I seriously considered Jimenez for the final spot on the roster, but he would have to come in as a reliever and that did not go well for him. I thought about Webb too but, with relievers, you have to go with hot hand. McFarland likely won't see the field much unless one of the games becomes blowout, but he has been effective lately.
There you have it. We have our 25, made up of 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.
|C Caleb Joseph||OF Delmon Young||RHP Chris Tillman||LHP Zach Britton|
|1B Steve Pearce||OF David Lough||LHP Wei-Yin Chen||LHP Andrew Miller|
|2B Jonthan Schoop||INF Jimmy Paredes||RHP Miguel Gonzalez||RHP Darren O'Day|
|3B Ryan Flaherty||C Nick Hundley||RHP Bud Norris||RHP Tommy Hunter|
|SS J.J. Hardy||RHP Brad Brach|
|LF Alejandro De Aza||RHP Kevin Gausman|
|CF Adam Jones||LHP Brian Matusz|
|RF Nick Markakis||LHP T.J. McFarland|
|DH Nelson Cruz|
The two that were the most difficult to cut were Jimenez and Berry.
With Jimenez, it was a personal thing. I like him as a human and would like to see him take part in a successful Orioles playoff run. But, he has just been far too inconsistent to risk putting into such a high pressure situation.
Berry is just so fast. His one tool is stealing bases and he has done it well time and time again. Is that worth a roster spot this time of year? Especially with the Orioles style of play? Maybe, but I didn't think so.
How do you feel about the potential playoff roster? Would you have kept someone that I left off? Be sure to let me know in the comments down below or tweet me @_TyYoung.