Orioles manager Buck Showalter must turn in his roster for the American League Division Series by 10 a.m. today. It’s pretty much set in his mind, along with a rotation that he’s already passed along to Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. He’s just in no rush to share it with reporters.
Showalter wants to make certain that he’s not forced into any late changes.
Everyone made it through yesterday’s workout without incident. It’s safe to go with his original list.
Showalter said he’s been debating whether to carry 10 or 11 pitchers. Unless he makes a late adjustment, I expect him to keep only 10. I picked up that vibe yesterday, but vibes never are official.
Kevin Gausman is moving to the bullpen, leaving room for five other relievers. Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter are part of the group. Who’s the fifth?
The Tigers lead the majors with a .285 average against left-handers. They rank second against right-handers with a .274 average. In other words, they’re going to be a handful at the plate.
Their higher average vs. southpaws and the way their lineup leans more to the right could lead Showalter to remove left-handers Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland in this series. Again, that’s assuming the Orioles keep only 10 pitchers. We’ll find out later this morning.
“They’re pretty good,” Gausman said of the Tigers. “They’ve got a lot of real good hitters and guys who have been around the league for a while and been around the postseason for a long time, and that’s why I think they’ve won four straight in that division. They’re really good and obviously their pitchers are pretty incredible, too.
“I think this is going to be our biggest task so far. It’s going to be tough, but I think it’s going to be fun.”
The Tigers are widely viewed as having the superior rotation due to Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price. However, the Orioles’ staff ERA of 3.43 ranked third in the American League, while the Tigers’ 4.01 ERA ranked 11th. The rotation’s 3.61 ERA ranked fifth, while the Tigers’ 3.89 ERA ranked 10th.
As least statistically, it seems as though the Orioles starters are being dismissed too easily.
“It’s not about getting overlooked,” said center fielder Adam Jones. “Those guys have pitched a lot more innings in their careers, a lot more pitches have been thrown in their careers. I just think our guys this year have really stepped up and are ready and willing to throw those same important pitches in their careers.”
Is the Orioles rotation flying under the radar?
“Just a little bit, but they’ve done what they’ve done,” said starter Bud Norris. “They’ve won their Cy Youngs. They’re amazing pitchers. I monitor their game often and try to learn from them and what they’ve done. But I think that goes for all our staff.
“What they’ve done this year definitely talks about what we’ve done as a group and a community, from the bullpen to the rotation. Being third in the American League says something. It’s not an easy league to pitch in, but the year we’re having this year has been a great one. We just want to keep it going, keep doing the work we’ve done and go forward.”
Matusz thinks the rotation has been overlooked, but he’s accepting of it.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s fine. We’re OK with that. We’re OK with the attention being on them and with their Cy Young guys. We know what we have. We know we have good guys. We know we have the talent. We’re just excited to actually play the games because that’s what really matters.”
The Orioles’ 3.10 bullpen ERA ranked third in the league. The Tigers’ 4.29 ERA ranked 13th.
“We have the arms to do it,” Matusz said. “We’ve been consistent all year. We have depth and the talent. It’s just a matter of doing it.
“We have confidence in the starters to do what they’ve done all year and I know they have confidence in us to be able to close and finish games out. Obviously, we have the talent and the guys to do it. Just a matter of making it happen.”
I’ll post the lineup later today, as usual, but my guess is it’s going to resemble this one:
Nick Markakis RF
Alejandro De Aza LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Steve Pearce 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Nick Hundley C
Jonathan Schoop 2B