Hyde explains today's lineup with Westburg first and Henderson fourth

Gunnar Henderson has served as Orioles leadoff hitter in every game this season, but he’s in the cleanup spot this afternoon against the Blue Jays. Jordan Westburg bats first for the first time in his major league career.

Why Westburg?

The Blue Jays announced this morning that they’d give the ball to left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, but matchups haven’t impacted Henderson in the past.

“Just a little bit the way our lineup is with two lefties at the bottom,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “A bunch of things, but having Gunnar in a little bit more of an RBI spot, having those four guys at the top with (Anthony) Santander in the middle there. We’ll see what it looks like.”

Hyde keeps praising the quality of Westburg’s at-bats, which makes the infielder a viable candidate at the top.

“Yeah, he’s been great versus lefties and righties,” Hyde said. “I’m comfortable hitting him wherever. I love the at-bats he takes. For me, he really grinds at the plate, he doesn’t take a pitch off and he stays on the baseball so well. Unbelievably competitive. He’s been wonderful this year.”

Henderson leads the club with 12 home runs and is tied with Westburg for most RBIs with 27. Westburg’s .353 on-base percentage ranks first and his .298 average is second. Henderson’s .553 slugging his first, followed by Westburg at .518.

It makes sense to bat them in the upper portion in the order but also try to set up more RBI opportunities.

Hyde’s ideal leadoff hitter has a high-contact rate and high on-base percentage and can provide some speed. Put the ball in play, work an at-bat and keep it alive.

“They’re hard to find,” Hyde said.

“We have a bunch of good hitters who can hit leadoff, so if you combine a little bit of everything … that would be ideal.”

How did Westburg react when told he’d bat leadoff today?

“Probably how you’d think he would react,” Hyde said.

So no reaction?

“Not much, no,” Hyde said.

Westburg said “OK” and that was pretty much the extent of their conversation.

Hyde didn’t commit to this setup beyond this afternoon. The Mariners are starting three right-handers this weekend, which could impact the lineup.

Colton Cowser is hitting seventh today, with James McCann eighth and Cedric Mullins ninth. Westburg gives Hyde another right-handed bat when the lineup turns over.

“Yeah, don’t read too much into this,” Hyde said. “I think everybody reads way too much into lineups, especially spring training lineups. This is more of where we are with having Gunnar still hitting in the top part in the order with two lefties in the bottom part of the order and with the wraparound, having Gunnar there at the top, it’s three lefties out of four hitters. I’m just looking to break it up a little bit with Gunnar still in a big spot in our lineup.”

Hyde said the wet field didn’t factor into his decisions. Austin Hays, who’s returned from a left calf strain, is on the bench today against a southpaw.

“Not today, no,” Hyde said. “We’re really healthy. It didn’t affect it at all.”

The Orioles aren’t listing their starters for the weekend home series against the Mariners, perhaps an indicator that Grayson Rodriguez could slot into the rotation.

Seattle is starting Bryce Miller on Friday, Luis Castillo on Saturday and George Kirby on Sunday.

O's game blog: Wrapping up the rain-shortened seri...
Westburg batting leadoff today in series finale

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/