Since at least the start of spring training, it’s been clear that the Orioles would be using different lineups against left-handed pitching than they will use most of the time against righties. The second game of the year tonight against the Blue Jays is when we will finally get a taste of what that will look like in practice.
In short, the Orioles are going to continue to utilize their philosophy of “Anyone Can Play Outfield” (adapted from a lesser-known B-side on Radiohead’s Pablo Honey) for another season. Last year, that meant a lot of Mark Trumbo in right field. This year, it’s Trey Mancini in right field, at least against lefty J.A. Happ for tonight.
Joey Rickard finds himself in the left field position for tonight, replacing Hyun Soo Kim. Rickard will be the leadoff hitter for the game. Buck Showalter probably has a reason for why, even if it’s not a reason that we like.
The full lineup that will be hitting and playing defense in support of starting pitcher Dylan Bundy:
- Joey Rickard - LF
- Adam Jones - CF
- Manny Machado - 3B
- Mark Trumbo - DH
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Trey Mancini - RF
- Welington Castillo - C
- Jonathan Schoop - 2B
- J.J. Hardy - SS
Using Mancini in right field for the first game against a lefty pitcher is interesting, if maybe not a good idea, because you have to wonder if it signifies they’re planning to do this more often.
As we heard throughout spring training, the Orioles will have to make one roster move on April 15 to activate a fifth starter, and as cropped up recently, they’ll need to make a roster move on April 9 to activate Wade Miley, the fourth starter.
Are they trying to use Mancini’s bat for the few games they have it before he is the one who is optioned to make room for one of the starting pitchers? Or is this a sign that they’re planning to have Mancini stick around on the bench for most of the season? We’ll find out for sure on Sunday. For now, this gives us more to wonder about.
And by the way, don’t expect a whole lot from a lot of this lineup based on past history against Happ. Jones, who has seen him the most, has a .648 OPS in 33 PA. Hardy, in 27 PA, has only a .551 OPS against Happ. It’s worse for Schoop (.513 OPS in 20 PA) and worse still for Trumbo, who has a .000/.000/.000 line in 11 PA.