Orioles’ ALDS Roster
For more than a month I’ve been going over in my head who the O’s should have on their 25-man roster for the ALDS. It’s a difficult issue to navigate, especially now that Chris Davis isn’t allowed to be with the team for the series. The team will likely pull from it’s current 33 player pool on the active roster, so that’s who we’ll focus on in building the club’s playoff roster. We’ll also break it down by position groups, which will make some more sense later.
Discuss my proposed playoff roster and who you’d include on yours on the BSL forums here.
The first place to look is the starting rotation; the guys who will take the mound to start each of the games in the ALDS. Remember that the ALDS is a five game series so it could last as few as three games, or as many as five. For that reason the O’s will likely include four starting pitchers on their roster, with the intention of letting them start games during the series. Those starters, in order, are (roster # in parentheses):
1. Tillman (1)
2. Bud Norris (2)
3. Wei-Yin Chen (3)
4. Kevin Gausman (4)
As of right now the O’s are looking at playing the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, which definitely impacts these decisions. The Tigers are likely to run out a lineup consisting almost entirely of right-handed hitters (RHH), save for Victor Martinez and Al Avila. That means that the O’s will want to run out their best rotation of righty-killers as their starters. The biggest omission would be Miguel Gonzalez who has posted the highest wOBA against RHH among the righties on staff. I’ve included Chen ( a lefty) to give the Tigers a different look, but also because he’s arguably one of the best pitchers on staff.
You’ll note that this rotation differs slightly from the one Patrick Dougherty discussed last week here on BSL. That’s ok! I’ve always been a Gausman guy, but picking Gonzalez wouldn’t be the end of the world. Gonzalez is also the likely choice given the number of innings Gausman has thrown so far this season. That said, I’d still want Gausman in my rotation, but to each their own.
I’m not envious of the O’s hitters should the club face Detroit in the ALDS. Why? Facing a rotation consisting of Scherzer, Price, Verlander, and Porcello is pretty terrifying. The club might also have another stud SP in the bullpen as Anibal Sanchez makes his way back from injury.
So who gets the pleasure of facing that rotation? Here’s my suggested base lineup (note: I’m not going to do vs. LHP/vs. RHP, so keep in mind that this is the basic lineup off which I’d iterate for each game):
1. RF – Nick Markakis (5)
2. 1B – Steve Pearce (6)
3. CF – Adam Jones (7)
4. DH – Nelson Cruz (8)
5. SS – JJ Hardy (9)
6. LF – Alejandro De Aza (10)
7. 3B – Ryan Flaherty (11)
8. 2B – Jonathan Schoop (12)
9. C – Caleb Joseph (13)
So there are a couple of things here. Of the Kelly Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, Ryan Flaherty options for 3B, I went with Flaherty. He’s the best defender of the group, and it isn’t even particularly close. You’ll probably want to tweak this lineup against LHH, though I suspect that it wouldn’t involve much tweaking.
Top Bullpen Arms
This group will consist of the guys that I’d be handing the ball to first in a close game. They’re the guys you want to lean on in a posteason series, and they’re guys that we’ve come to know and love over the course of the season (in descending order):
1. LHP – Zach Britton (14)
2. LHP – Andrew Miller (15)
3. RHP – Darren O’Day (16)
4. Brad Brach (17)
Realistically this group is those top 3 guys, though I’ve thrown Brach in here as the non-O’Day righty. Earlier this season it might have been Hunter or Webb, but Brach has earned this spot. There shouldn’t be any questions here really, though I will note that I probably trust Miller more than Britton at this point. That said, Britton has earned his spot at the back end of the bullpen, and so there he is. Note: I didn’t call anyone a “closer” or “set up man”. That’s because names are stupid.
This is tough. Essentially these last eight roster spots come down to what mix of bullpen arms and bench bats/legs makes the most sense. There are definitely some specialists in this group, but that’s kind of how it goes:
1. UTIL – Kelly Johnson (18)
2. UTIL – Delmon Young (19)
3. C – Nick Hundley (20)
4. PR – Quintin Berry (21)
Paredes and Lough are the big omissions here I suppose. Paredes has been excellent with the bat this season, but his performance has been completely unsustainable. Give me the guy who will start to hit better (Johnson), rather than the guy who will start to hit worse (Paredes). On top of that, Johnson has played 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and DH this season. Between Johnson and Flaherty the O’s will have all the positional versatility that they’ll need.
Young is a bench bat, and a bench bat only. Berry is a pinch runner and a possible late inning defensive replacement. In a perfect world Young gets an extra base hit every time he pinch hits and Berry runs for him, taking the spot of whoever Young hit for (if applicable). Berry is well known for being a terrific base stealer in the postseason which means just about nothing, but he’s the only guy on this bench with any speed.
As for Hundley, well you’ve gotta have a backup catcher. I’m sure Buck would play with matchups between Joseph and Hundley.
Rest of Bullpen
Included here is the list of additional pitchers the O’s should carry in the ALDS. Given that it’s a short five game series, these names are highly negotiable. I’ve omitted some guys because the likelihood that they’d pitch in multiple games during a short series is so low that it wasn’t worth including them (in descending order):
1. RHP – Ryan Webb (22)
2. RHP – Tommy Hunter (23)
3. RHP – Miguel Gonzalez (24)
4. LHP – TJ McFarland (25)
You’ll notice that the bullpen is pretty right-handed heavy. This is because of the imbalance in the Tigers’ lineup, and the fact that the O’s bullpen tends to skew that way anyway. Miguel Gonzalez would be your SP replacement, meaning that if a starter came out after 4 innings or something like that, he’s your guy. Beyond that, he’s not likely to see much action. TJ McFarland got the nod over Matusz simply because there’s not a significant lefty to be concerned with. If the O’s face the Angels in a later series, you might consider rostering Matusz to face Josh Hamilton and nobody else. That’s not the case here though, so Matusz doesn’t make the cut.
So there you have it. A pretty balanced roster that says more about the O’s options on the bench than the quality of their pitching staff. If Wieters, Machado, and Davis were all healthy and/or eligible to play, the roster might look a bit different. The fact is though that the O’s have a pretty solid starting lineup and will likely need minimal bench support. The breakdown of positions is:
Starting Lineup: 9
That leaves you with 12 pitchers and 13 position players. A solid roster for a three to five game series against the Tigers, and one that gives the O’s a good chance to win the series and advance. It’s likely that the club might tweak the roster going into the ALCS, but for now, this is the ALDS roster that I’d roll with if I were Buck and Dan Duquette.
Jeff was the owner of the Orioles blog Warehouse Worthy, which focused on making advanced statistics a part of the conversation for the average fan. Outside of baseball, Jeff is a graduate of Loyola University where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration. The Maryland native currently works for an Advertising Agency in downtown Baltimore. Previously a contributor to Beyond the Boxscore, he joined Baseball Prospectus in September 2014. You can reach him at [email protected]