Question: Who’s in the bullpen for the postseason? From: @actuallyBJH
Answer: Postseason roster questions are popular ones in this mailbag. A similar question was asked by @karks88.
It’s a hard one to answer because we don’t know if the Orioles will be in the wild-card round or win the AL East. If they win the East, they’ll have five days to set the rotation and rest their pitchers. If they are in the wild-card round, they may still be playing meaningful games until October 1st, two days before the wild-card round begins.
Since manager Brandon Hyde has put Jack Flaherty in the bullpen, it means there’s another candidate. One of the remaining five starters could also be in the bullpen.
One current reliever, Jorge López, can’t be on the postseason roster because he was acquired after September 1st. Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe, DL Hall, Cionel Pérez and Jacob Webb are also strong candidates. I think Mike Baumann is also another reliever to think about. The final 10 games of the season will be important for Shintaro Fujinami, who struggled again on Wednesday.
It seems like closer Félix Bautista, who continues to throw while on the injured list, is a long shot because of an elbow injury, and we don’t know about Tyler Wells, who’s still at Triple-A Norfolk. In the end, the postseason bullpen could look a lot like it looks right now.
Question: What’s the current status of Tyler Wells? Is he still a possibility in these last few series or in the postseason? From: Russell Wallace via email
Answer: That question was also asked by Carlos Vasquez and Greg Ferry on Facebook. I think it’s possible that you’ll see Wells for the final 10 days of the season. I assumed he would have been called up before now, but I think he could be an asset in the postseason.
Question: If the Orioles win the AL East and have time to set up their starting rotation for the ALDS, who do you foresee as the starters? From: Birdman via email
Answer: Joel, I think the first three starters could be Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer. If a fourth starter is needed, and may not be because it’s best 3-of-5, it would be either John Means or Kyle Gibson.
Question: Will there be a set batting order in the next few weeks? We seem to change the order each game? From: Timothy Janeway via email
Answer: Timothy, I don’t think there will be a set batting order. Brandon Hyde may rest some of his players in the coming days to help get them ready for the postseason, and you’re right, in the first 152 games, there have been 140 different batting orders.
Question: Is John Means eligible to pitch in the postseason? I don’t think he was on the roster on September 1st. From: Carl Sallese via email
Answer: Carl, John Means is eligible to pitch in the postseason. Only players who are not in the organization on September 1st are ineligible for the postseason.
Question: It seems that Shintaro Fujinami has been the most inconsistent reliever in the Orioles’ bullpen. Why does Hyde continue to put him in, especially in close games at this point of the season? From: Tim Maupin via email
Answer: Tim, without Félix Bautista, Hyde is using Yennier Cano as his closer, but I think that Fujinami has such intriguing stuff that he’d be foolish not to consider using him. but Wednesday’s outing was especially troubling.
Yes, he’s been inconsistent, but his stuff can be overpowering, and I think Hyde will use the final 10 games of the season to evaluate him.
Question: What are the chances of Heston Kjerstad making the postseason roster? From: @7:54-Man
Answer: The Orioles are carrying 14 position players now, and unless they decide to carry fewer than 13 pitchers, which I don’t think they will, they’ll have to cut one of the current position players from the postseason roster.
I think Kjerstad’s chances improve if the Orioles face a pitching staff with lots of right-handed starters in their first round, whether it’s the wild-card or division series. If it’s a team with a number of left-handers, Kjerstad’s chances go down.
Question: With the rosters expanding on September 1st, are teams still allowed to call up an extra pitcher for a doubleheader? From: Kevin Gish via email
Answer: Kevin, teams are allowed an extra player, and it doesn’t have to be a pitcher, for a post-September 1st doubleheader. The Orioles have played only one doubleheader, on April 29th, this season.
Question: Are playoff teams reseeded after the wild-card round. If not, why not? From: Phil Cooke via email
Answer: Phil, teams are not reseeded after the wild-card round. I know it’s been talked about but it hasn’t been done.
Question: in the last two offseasons the O’s signed Jordan Lyles two years ago and then signed Kyle Gibson and traded for Cole Irvin last offseason. With the improvement shown by Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer, and with the depth they have in the minors, do you think it’s time to trade for a top-tier starting pitcher instead of signing middle-rotation types as free agents. Also, do you see a guy like Chayce McDermott getting a long look in the spring? From: Dave Gruber via email
Answer: Dave, I think with Rodriguez, Bradish, Kremer, John Means and Tyler Wells, it’s unlikely the Orioles are going to trade for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. I think it’s more likely they’ll sign another veteran to a one-year contract as insurance.
I think McDermott could pitch for the Orioles next season, but not initially. They’re much more aggressive in promoting their position players than their pitchers.
Question: Do you think Mac Horvath is a candidate for the Arizona Fall League? From: @4Hoopes
Answer: Robby, Horvath won’t be going to the Arizona Fall League. Generally, the Orioles send players from Bowie, their Double-A affiliate, to the AFL. He’s in Sarasota with a number of other young players at a fall camp.
Question: Do you see any of these players returning next year — Aaron Hicks, Adam Frazier, Jorge Mateo, James McCann and Ryan O’Hearn? And do you see any of these players on the Opening Day roster — Joey Ortiz, Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo, Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad From: Bill Connor via email
Answer: Aaron Hicks and Adam Frazier are both free agents, and I think they’re unlikely to return. Jorge Mateo is eligible for arbitration, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go elsewhere. James McCann is under contract for next year, and Ryan O’Hearn is also eligible for arbitration, and I’m sure he’ll be back.
I think there’s a good chance that Ortiz, Cowser and Kjerstad began the season with the Orioles. I think that Holliday and Mayo will both return to Norfolk to begin the season and join the Orioles sometime during the 2024 season.
Question: How long is Mike Elias’ contract with the Orioles? From: Glenn Fuller via email
Answer: I don’t know how long Elias’ contract is, but we were left with the impression that he signed an extension last offseason. The Orioles don’t announce contract lengths for their manager or general manager.