Taking a closer look at the Orioles' American League Division Series roster

In considering his American League Division Series roster, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said this weekend in Toronto that his biggest decision was whether he would carry 10 or 11 pitchers in the best-of-five series against the Detroit Tigers.

He decided on the latter and opted to make that 11th pitcher right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

To call Jimenez’s first season in Baltimore inconsistent might be kind. He’s been on a roller coaster that included a second-half demotion to the bullpen.

Recently, Jimenez has made strides. He made an adjustment to his delivery – he no longer raises his hands over his head and behind it from the windup – which he said makes his motion more fluid and compact.

Pulled from the 'pen in mid-September, Jimenez won back-to-back starts, allowing four runs over 10 innings. He also pitched a scoreless inning in relief in Sunday’s regular-season finale in Toronto, overcoming a leadoff two-base error by striking out the side.

That performance might have gotten him the last pitcher spot on the ALDS roster.

The club has invested a lot in Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50-million deal in February. Still, I can’t imagine that Jimenez sees time in any critical situation in the ALDS. I’ve got to imagine he is there to keep the Orioles bullpen fresh by pitching in long relief in a blowout.

Speaking of the bullpen, the Orioles are carrying just two left-handers – closer Zach Britton and late-inning arm Andrew Miller – leaving both Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland off the roster.

Traditionally, Showalter likes the idea of having McFarland as a long-reliever available to follow a right-handed starter. And Matusz posted a 1.80 ERA in September, though his role has diminished since the acquisition of Miller.

But considering how well the Tigers his left-hander pitching – Detroit’s .285 average against lefties is the best in the majors – the Orioles opted to stack the bullpen with right-handers.

Keep in mind that right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was in the rotation, will be used in relief. He provides a flexible piece because he can give the team multiple innings or be used situationally in the late innings.

There weren’t too many surprises among position players. It was obvious that infielder Jimmy Paredes, who has struggled defensively at third base and is in a 2-for-18 slump, was on the bubble when the team summoned Alexi Casilla to play third on Saturday, but the team still chose Paredes.

Ultimately, the decision to keep Paredes was in favor of outfielder Quintin Berry, who has played in the World Series the past two seasons as a base-running weapon. He is 25-for-25 in stolen bases over his career and is 5-for-5 in steals in the postseason.

Paredes is a switch hitter who fares well against right-hander pitching and batted .286 in 14 starts with the Orioles. And we didn’t see much of Berry other than on the basepaths in September, even though the Orioles played plenty of reserves over the final two weeks.

Berry received just two plate appearances and played just nine innings in the outfield. That’s compared to David Lough, who hit .309 with two homers and seven RBIs in 13 starts over the season’s final two months.


Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad