A few thoughts on ALCS rotation and roster

The Orioles are working out today at Camden Yards. The session is closed to the public.

The media qualifies as public, so we won’t be there.

I’ve been asked about the rotation and 25-man roster for the American League Championship Series. Did we learn nothing from the Division Series? Manager Buck Showalter isn’t going to show his hand this early.

gonzalez-pitching-black-close-sidebar.jpgChris Tillman seems a lock to pitch Game 1 on Friday. I’ve had fans float Miguel Gonzalez’s name, since he didn’t pitch in the ALDS and he needs the work. Well, that may be true, but getting work in Game 1 doesn’t seem like a solid plan.

Gonzalez could pitch in a simulated game to stay sharp. It’s a seven-game series, so he’s virtually assured of making a start.

Tillman is 2-2 with a 6.21 ERA in five starts against the Royals and 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in two starts in Kansas City. He tossed a complete-game five-hit shutout on May 16 at Kauffman Stadium.

Wei-Yin Chen is 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA in six starts against the Royals and 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts in Kansas City. Bud Norris is 0-1 with a 0.68 ERA in two starts against the Royals and 0-1 with a 1.23 ERA in one start in Kansas City. Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA in three starts against the Royals and 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in one start in Kansas City - allowing six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings on June 25, 2013.

Kevin Gausman has never faced the Royals. Ubaldo Jimenez, who could be dropped from the roster if Showalter adds left-handed relievers Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland, is 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 11 starts against the Royals and 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA in five starts in Kansas City.

I’ll say it again: Norris brings an attitude to the rotation that is beyond beneficial.

What comes after beneficial?

The Royals batted .266 against left-handers during the regular season to rank fifth in the American League, and .261 against right-handers to rank third. Do whatever you wish with those numbers.

The Royals batted .198 in the Division Series, but they swept the Angels. How is this possible? Maybe because they posted a 1.74 ERA.

The Orioles batted .263 and posted a 3.33 ERA while sweeping the Tigers.

Both teams have outstanding bullpens and play above-average defense. The Royals possess a huge edge in team speed and stolen bases - they ranked first in the majors with 153 while the Orioles ranked last with 44.

Didn’t it seem as though the Royals used 27 pinch-runners in the wild card game against the Athletics?

Orioles catchers will be severely tested, but they’re not the only ones. The pitchers must hold runners, a skill that Showalter demands of everyone.

Reliever Ryan Webb needs to work on it in spring training. It’s not in his skill set.

As long as I’m handing out edges in this series, Showalter vs. Ned Yost is a mismatch. No offense to Yost, who led the Royals to their first playoff appearance since powder blue uniforms were cool, but he may be in over his head.

Royals fans could counter that the same supposedly was true of Yost vs. Mike Scioscia. Fair enough.

I’ve been asked about reports that Showalter will let players vote whether Chris Davis is included on the 25-man roster in the ALCS. I’m assuming that it came from TBS. I haven’t heard Showalter make this claim during any of his media sessions.

Davis has to miss five more games before completing his suspension, requiring the Orioles to play a man short. I find it incredibly hard to believe that Showalter would be comfortable with this arrangement, or that he would leave the decision in the hands of his players. He respects and values their opinions, but he’s still in charge.

Davis played first base yesterday for the first time in the instructional league and went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI grounder in five innings. He’s expected to play in the final game this morning against the Pirates in Bradenton.

I’m still wondering whether Showalter continues to carry Jimmy Paredes and Kelly Johnson. And since he came close to including outfielder Quintin Berry on the ALDS roster, does the temptation grow against the go-go Royals?

First, we need to find out whether Showalter continues to go with 11 pitchers. He may need to carry 12 if he wants to bring back Matusz and McFarland.

I tweeted the following last night: “Gotta give Courtney Britton props for running with We Won’t Stop slogan. Labor induced tonight so Zach back Game 1. Put THAT on a t-shirt.”

Minutes later, I received the following response from Courtney: “lol.. You’re welcome”

She included a thumbs-up symbol. On the day that she was due to give birth to the couple’s first child in California.

I’d vote her a playoff share.

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