BALTIMORE—The Orioles have three games left to play in the regular season, and manager Brandon Hyde is taking the opportunity to rest some of his players after clinching the American League East title on Thursday night.
Kyle Gibson will start on Saturday night. The Orioles haven’t chosen a starter for Sunday, though it would be Kyle Bradish’s turn. Hyde said that he’ll have “a lot of scheduled bullpen appearances for a lot of these guys.”
The Orioles clinched a playoff spot on September 17th, and though their AL East title seemed an inevitability, Hyde didn’t want to schedule any pitchers.
“I didn’t want to jinx anything,” Hyde said. “I wanted to make sure we clinched first.”
Hyde hasn’t decided on a postseason rotation. The Orioles will face the winner of a wild-card series between Tampa Bay and, as it stands now, Toronto in the American League Division Series beginning on October 7th.
“Nothing is set in stone right now. We’re seeing who we’re playing,” Hyde said. “We have some time.”
The Orioles scratched catcher Adley Rutschman and third baseman Ramón Urías from Friday’s lineup because they are “under the weather.” Hyde was already resting shortstop Gunnar Henderson and outfielder Anthony Santander. Heston Kjerstad will start in right field, his first start in the outfield. He’s likely to start in at least two of the three games remaining.
Hyde said that while a break is welcomed, he hasn’t experienced five days between the end of the regular season on Sunday and the beginning of the ALDS.
“We have some guys that could really use some time off,” Hyde said. “That many days, no.”
Hyde said the team will work out during the break, but he hasn’t decided on a schedule.
The Orioles will bring up a handful of players from Triple-A Norfolk to serve as a taxi squad in case of injury during the postseason. Norfolk, which won the International League championship on Thursday night, plays Oklahoma City for the Triple-A title on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Lease update: After the third inning of Thursday night’s game, Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos and Maryland Governor Wes Moore appeared on the scoreboard with the announcement that the Orioles and Maryland had agreed on a new 30-year lease.
On Friday, the Governor’s office issued a press release that said that the parties had “finalized a memorandum of understanding” that keeps the Orioles in Baltimore for at least 30 years.
The actual lease has yet to be signed, though the release says the memorandum also has two five-year option extensions.
There is a 99-year development rights agreement for the areas surrounding the ballpark, including the Warehouse and Camden Station.
Operations and maintenance of the ballpark will be handled directly by the Orioles instead of the Maryland Stadium Authority. The Orioles will no longer pay rent on the ballpark.
Wells as closer: Tyler Wells retired the last three batters in the ninth to earn his first save in two years. He says it doesn’t matter if he’s the closer in the postseason.
“I think any opportunity to go out there in big moments and help the team win is satisfying to me,” Wells said. “Whether the title is closer, whether it’s just ‘coming in big moments’ type of guy, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to help the team win in some of the biggest moments we have.”
Wells was a starter in 2022 and through July before he was sent down to the minor leagues because of arm fatigue.
“I think the experience that I’ve gained over the last couple of years has really helped with that understanding I can’t work myself up too much,” Wells said. “I need to focus on going out there and executing, and I need to sit there and actually make sure I complete the job first. My experience helped me out a lot with that. It was a little different than it was in ’21 where I was able to go out there and try and blow it by guys.
“The idea that I have of what a closer was then is very different than what I have now. A lot of that, too, is Félix [Bautista] is someone I look at, that I learn from. He may throw 100. He may have a really good splitter. The guy pitches, and he throws a lot of strikes.”