Bullpen alignment

Unless there are injuries, the Orioles have five relievers who have to be considered near locks for the postseason: left-handers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, and right-handers Darren O'Day, Tommy Hunter and Brad Brach. There also will be a starter or two relegated to the bullpen for the postseason. So that means the Orioles probably have three or four more relief spots to consider. Left-handers T.J. McFarland and Brian Matusz will be in the mix as will several right-handers in the minor leagues who have contributed this season, such as Ryan Webb, Evan Meek, pictured, and Preston Guilmet. Veteran left-hander Joe Saunders also could pitch his way into a role with a great September. Showalter is extremely high on Saunders, and the team offered him an opportunity to pitch in relief in the offseason before he was offered an opportunity to start. Saunders, who was the winning pitcher in the Orioles' 2012 wild-card game win on the road against the Texas Rangers, now can give them multiple innings in relief. He will get a chance to show what he can do when rosters expand Sept. 1. Miller, who was acquired in a July 31 trade with the Boston Red Sox, has been a valuable lockdown left-hander and is a perfect complement to right-handed late-inning pitchers O'Day and Hunter. Brach's emergence has been remarkable because he can give the Orioles a long-relief option or protect the other bullpen pieces with his ability to account for multiple innings. Britton has saved 27 of 30 games this year, and he is entrenched in the closer's role. He has converted his last 12 save opportunities. Keeping the bullpen healthy is always a priority for Showalter, and continuing to get deep starts from the rotation allows him to maintain that. And since the club can change its postseason roster after every series, expect Showalter to play matchups when selecting his bullpen pieces.
Joy R. Absalon, USA Today Sports
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