You don’t have to wipe that smile off your face or remove your Ubaldo Jimenez jersey today, but when you come up to the fake bar, take off your O’s beanie and replace it with a faux manager’s cap.
You’re building me a rotation for this weekend.
Let’s put this in perspective first.
When Orioles manager Buck Showalter was forced to put Jimenez back into the starting rotation in late August, you cringed.
Then Jimenez helped stabilize the rotation by being Good Ubaldo – Really Good Ubaldo – consistently.
When Showalter chose to pitch lefty Wade Miley on Sunday, Sept. 18 against the Tampa Bay Rays following another disastrous outing, you harrumphed (your barkeep did, too).
And all Miley has done since is allow one run in his last 12 2/3 innings.
So now we’re at that, ‘What are you thinking?’ crossroads again.
Although it’s not “written in blood,” as Showalter likes to say, it looks like the rotation for the final series of the regular season at Yankee Stadium will be Yovani Gallardo on Friday night, Miley on Saturday and most likely Kevin Gausman in the season finale Sunday, assuming that game means something to the Wild Card race.
The thought, one would assume, is that the Orioles have to plan for a potential Tuesday wild-card playoff (which would likely be Chris Tillman’s start) and a possible 163rd game/postseason play-in Monday, which could be Tillman or rookie Dylan Bundy.
Based on how Gausman has fared versus the Yankees (5-3, 1.87 ERA in 16 games) and at Yankee Stadium (2-2, 2.36 ERA in eight games), you’d think he would get that Sunday assignment if it’s a do-or-die scenario.
With the crucial, top AL Wild Card spot there for the taking, that’s what you have to do: Put your best chance at winning out on the field every day.
And that brings us to this final weekend, and the absence of Bundy in the rotation (he’d go to the bullpen).
Gallardo isn’t flashy, but he’s been fairly steady in his career. He also is 1-2 with an 8.16 ERA in three starts at Yankee Stadium.
Miley has pitched exceptionally well in his last two outings, but he has never beaten the Yankees in six starts and has a 4.76 ERA in three games in the Bronx.
Bundy allowed four runs in a five-inning outing in his lone start in New York, and he has pitched more innings this season than in any other in his pro career. He also has a 5.11 ERA in five September starts (but a 3-1 record in those games).
Given his age and lack of innings as a pro in the previous three seasons, I wasn’t a fan of starting Bundy at all this year. But I don’t pull the rotation plug on him now. I think he is the best the Orioles have to offer this weekend besides Gausman.
I’d probably go with Bundy on Friday, Miley on Saturday and Gausman on Sunday – skipping Gallardo for now.
But Showalter certainly has made the right moves this summer while I would have kept Bundy in the bullpen in July, not given Jimenez another starting chance in August and not given Miley another turn in September.
Yep, my track record hasn’t been good here. So you can set me straight.
Tap-In Question: What are your thoughts on the Orioles’ rotation for this key weekend series?