Jason Hammel
Image Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

With rosters expanding just last week, the Orioles added multiple pitchers and position players to the roster to bolster the depth of the team down the stretch here in September. One issue the team hasn’t dealt with since I was five years old (way back in 1997) was limiting the roster come postseason time. The Orioles organization has always added 5-10 players as September callups come, but the problem hasn’t been faced in over a decade of having to limit the roster back down to 25 guys when a run begins for a World Series title.

With 11 pitchers making starts for the team so far this year, the playoffs would severely limit this number, as most teams go with a four man rotation when October begins. You will also see some three and five man groups, but in any case, a decision has to be made.  Who stays and who goes?

  • Joe Saunders, who just joined the team a week ago and has since made two starts, his first with very little command and his second where he took a perfect game into the 6th inning? The man is a veteran of many squads.
  • Randy Wolf, the newest acquisition right after Saunders, who is currently serving in a long relief role out of the bullpen but has a sub-5.00 ERA lifetime as an inning eating starter? He did pitch 3.1 very solid relief innings this past Sunday when Chris Tillman went down with elbow soreness.
  • Wei-Yin Chen, the Orioles most consistently healthy pitcher of 2012, making a team leading 27 starts (could be 28 or 29 if the team hadn’t skipped him for an inning limitation) with an above average 3.79 ERA?  He’s definitely showing Yu Darvish who the best international pitcher signing was from this past offseason.
  • Miguel Gonzalez, the 28 year old minor league journeyman from Gudalajara, Mexico, who has impressed fans and scouts alike with seven quality starts in ten chances? His fastball/changeup combination in and out of the zone has proven to be formidable at times.
  • Chris Tillman, Andy MacPhail’s favorite puppet from the last two seasons between the majors and AAA, who has a 3.39 in 11 starts and has shown impeccable fastball command along with improved mechanics? He hit 97 in his first start!
  • Jason Hammel, Dan Duquette’s best acquisition by far this past offseason in return for Jeremy Guthrie, who sported a 3.54 ERA in 18 starts before hitting the disabled list while dealing with knee problems? He made a successful return to the Orioles rotation in the next week.
  • Brian Matusz, who just made a transition to the bullpen after a less than impressive bulk of 2012, but has performed status quo in relief to this point? I say keep him there, if he even were to make the playoff roster.
  • Steve Johnson, the inexperienced babyface son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, who seemingly made his way onto the major league roster after threatening the club with his opt out clause if they didn’t purchase his contract?  Nobody really knows what his role is at the moment anyways.
  • Jake Arrieta, who dazzled on Opening Day and has been pretty darn bad every since? Matt Wieters says he has the best raw “stuff” on the entire pitching staff.
  • Zach Britton, who’s command issues make him a very high and low player who becomes very difficult to rely on to perform in the clutch?
  • Tommy Hunter, who will forever be remembered for serving up three home runs to Adrian Beltre in Arlington?
  • Dana Eveland, who…is Dana Eveland. That won’t be happening.

Little things could change who is chosen, like if Troy Patton is back and healthy anytime this month, which would affect the number of lefties needed in the bullpen. Barring injuries or major unexpected downfalls, I would project an order of Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman to be chosen. If Tillman is found to be injured, Saunders or Britton could take his place.

While entering spring training it seemed like the Orioles were loaded way too high with left handed pitching depth, it’s the righties who have really performed up to an above average level in 2012.  What an interesting dilemma this has become.