Baltimore Orioles fans all know the goal for the Orioles is to win the AL East. The Orioles still have a great chance at winning the AL East. They are also in a battle for one of two wild card spots. It’s about time to start looking at how the Orioles stack up come playoff time.
With the brand new setup for the 2012 baseball playoffs, the two wild card winners will face off in a one game playoff (schedule for Friday October 5th). This system increases the number of teams who could make the playoffs, but the “playoffs” is one game to decide who gets to play in the divisional series.
If the Orioles were to make the playoffs via one of the two wild card spots, which Orioles starter would you want starting that game. I know some fans will want to overthink the situation and possibly look past the one game playoff and try to set up their rotation for the divisional playoff series (if they win). With no guarantee of victory, in my opinion, you have to throw your best starter in the one game wild card playoff.
Obviously the schedule will play a major part, and with the way Buck Showalter has been shifting the starting rotation around the last month, there is no guarantee of knowing which starters will be available October 5th.
Let’s just say you can play manager and you can choose any of the Orioles starters. Who do you go with? Who do you want representing the Orioles on the mound October 5th in a one game playoff for all the marbles?
The Orioles, unlike most other teams, don’t have a clear cut number one starter. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen has been the team’s most consistent starter. He isn’t a typical rookie at 27-years-old with Olympic pitching experience for the Chinese Taipei national baseball team under his belt. Chen is 12-9 this season with a 3.98 ERA. He has at times been prone to the home run ball, but overall you couldn’t of asked for much more from Chen.
Arguably the Orioles best starter before going down with a knee injury was Jason Hammel. Hammel has pitched to a 8-6 record and a 3.43 ERA this season. If you ask me, I have the most confidence in Hammel. He seems to have taken to the role of staff ace and when healthy he is the team’s most consistent option. There is the problem of his balky knee. Hammel already has had surgery on his knee this season and is currently missing starts after re-injuring it. He should be back in time for a the end of the season, but there is no guarantee Hammel will be 100 percent.
Miguel Gonzalez has come out of nowhere to become a big part of the Orioles rotation this season. Despite not being with the team at the start of the season and not being highly regarded, you can make an argument Gonzalez is the best choice. Gonzalez has pitched impressively in big games this September, most notably seven shutout innings against the New York Yankees August 31st. Gonzalez is 6-4 with a 3.57 ERA this season.
Chris Tillman needs to also get serious consideration. It may be hard for Orioles fans to trust Tillman after he has struggled to find his way in his first couple seasons, but Tillman’s performance this season has been impressive. Just look at the numbers. The 24-year-old is 8-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts this season.
Finally, I think you have to also seriously consider late season pickup Joe Saunders. The veteran has the most big game experience of any of the Orioles starters and pitched another impressive game Wednesday night against the Seattle Mariners. Since getting roughed up in his first appearance as an Oriole, Saunders has been rock solid since. Saunders owns a 8-12 record and 4.08 ERA between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Orioles this season.
So which of the current Orioles starters do you want pitching for the Orioles if they have to play a one game wild card playoff?