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Saturday Bird Droppings: The ALDS begins

A profile on Gunnar, quotes from the other dugout, and playoff vibes in Baltimore.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

The day has finally arrived. The Orioles’ postseason gets underway at Camden Yards in just a few short hours, and the excitement is palpable!

Rosters have not yet been set for either team. That will come out sometime this morning. But we do know the starting pitching matchup for games one and two. It’s Kyle Bradish vs. Andrew Heaney today, Grayson Rodriguez vs. Jordan Montgomery tomorrow.

On paper, that is a clear advantage for the Orioles in the opener. Heaney has been solid for Texas in the second half of the year (3.38 ERA), but a chunk of that has come in a relief capacity. And even so, Bradish has pitched like a Cy Young contender for nearly the entire season. It certainly doesn’t guarantee a win, but it’s a good start.

The Rodriguez/Montgomery matchup is a meeting of two pitchers that have been tremendous in the second half. Montgomery owns a 2.79 ERA since being dealt from St. Louis to Texas. Rodriguez posted a 2.58 ERA after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk in July.

It will be somewhat interesting to see if O’s manager Brandon Hyde sticks to his formula against left-handed starters. Giving Ryan Mountcastle the start at first base over Ryan O’Hearn seems like a no-brainer considering their splits. The bigger question could be Jorge Mateo.

Mateo is a viable bat against lefties (.746 OPS this year), but starting him almost guarantees he gets pinch hit for at some point when a righty reliever steps in. That takes his legs and defense out of the game late. Perhaps that increases the need to have someone like Ryan McKenna on the bench as a pinch run option in a close game.

It’s looking like the weather should clear up just in time for first pitch. Rain is expected around Baltimore all morning, but that dissipates sometime between noon and 1 p.m. After that it should be a cozy 65 degrees with some sun poking through, a beautiful day for baseball.


Here’s what the Rangers said about the Orioles ahead of Saturday’s ALDS opener: ‘It’s going to be a battle’ | The Baltimore Sun
No bulletin board material to see here. These are two teams with some tangential familiarity with one another, but this is far from a rivalry. Perhaps that changes this week if some fireworks go off, but for now everyone is saying the nice things.

The remarkable rise of Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore’s rookie wonder | The Washington Post
The Orioles have something special on their hands with Henderson, and he’s only 22. Imagine how good he’ll be once he actually gets to his “prime.”

Hi, TikTok; bye, sub-$2 hot dog: 7 things that changed during the Orioles’ 7-year playoff pause | The Baltimore Sun
Seven years is an eternity in terms of technology, and that is evident in the experience at Camden Yards nowadays.

Orioles bring same season vibe into playoffs | Roch Kubatko
This group is yet to meet a moment too big for them. Who’s to say if that continues into the Division Series, but all evidence to this point suggests that they will be just fine.

Adley Rutschman excited to see the crowds and get the playoffs underway | Steve Melewski
My entirely biased opinion is that Camden Yards is MLB’s most raucous playoff atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the fanbase is just so hungry for sustained success, but whatever the cause it is electric this time of year.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Yusniel Díaz turns 27. The supposed centerpiece of the 2018 Manny Machado trade, Díaz would go on to make just one plate appearance in an Orioles uniform in 2022.
  • Alex Cobb is 36. From 2018 through 2020, the veteran righty had a 5.10 ERA over 217 total innings pitching for some dreadful Orioles teams.
  • John O’Donoghue celebrates his 84th. He spent part of the 1968 season in the Orioles bullpen.
  • The late Grady Hatton (b. 1922, d. 2013) was born on this day. He played for three different teams in 1956, including a 27-game stint in Baltimore.

This day in O’s history

2012 - The Orioles drop game one of the ALDS to the visiting Yankees 7-2.