NEW YORK — If the Orioles do make the playoffs – and they can clinch a postseason berth as early as Saturday night with a win and some help – they will have to make some tough decisions on the 25 players they select for their playoff roster.
Setting a playoff roster for the wild-card game is easy. Because it's one game, you only need to carry one starter and can stack the staff with relievers and bench players.
But if the Orioles advance to the American League Division Series, where they would face the Texas Rangers, who clinched home-field advantage by securing the AL's best record, picking the 25-man roster gets a little more difficult.
Two Orioles pitchers made their case for consideration in Friday's 8-1 win over the Yankees. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo had pitched so infrequently over the past month that he seemed to be one of the players on the bubble. But he helped his cause by holding the Yankees to one run on two hits over six innings for his second straight quality start.
"No matter what the situation is, whenever I'm asked upon to go out there and pitch, I'm going to go out there and pitch," Gallardo said. "There are certain things that I can't control. The only thing I can do is go out there and do the most that I can for the guys playing behind me out on the field. It's whatever comes down with that, we all just want to win. We want to win no matter what the situations. We're all one group. I've been feeling good. In my past two starts, I've been throwing the ball pretty well. So we'll see."
Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing has also become a more relevant figure out of the bullpen, and he's starting to make me wonder if he could get a bullpen spot.
Duensing missed about 2½ months with an elbow injury that required minor surgery, and he now has five straight scoreless appearances and six in his past seven since returning from the disabled list at the beginning of September.
When the Orioles originally acquired Duensing, it was to serve as a situational lefty reliever.
When Orioles manager Buck Showalter turned to him in the seventh inning Friday, Duensing retired all three batters he faced, including two hitters batting from the right side.
Duensing also received the win in Wednesday's comeback victory in Toronto. He entered the game with two outs in the eighth to face left-handed slugger Michael Saunders, but the Blue Jays pinch hit with Melvin Upton Jr. instead. Duensing struck him out on four pitches to end the inning.
On Friday, right-hander Darren O'Day made his first appearance since last Friday with a perfect eighth inning. Showalter has alluded to the fact that O'Day is not completely healthy, and it's evident that Showalter is picking his spots for O'Day with that in mind. O'Day has been on the DL two separate times this season with hamstring and shoulder injuries.
"We had six days and we could never really get that spot [to use him]," Showalter said. "He had a work day either yesterday or the day before yesterday in Toronto, and [pitching coach Dave Wallace] and [bullpen coach] Dom [Chiti], came in and said, 'He's close.' That was good tonight, especially in those conditions. If we could get in, he'd be a nice piece for us to add that we've been missing. That was encouraging tonight."