The Orioles will head into their first postseason series at Camden Yards in nearly a decade with a roster that doesn’t include a major piece of their rotation.
Left-hander John Means will miss the American League Division Series after he felt elbow soreness from a simulated game during the week, manager Brandon Hyde said. Means needs a few days off but could be available for the American League Championship Series, should Baltimore make it that far, Hyde said.
Means only returned from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in September. In four starts, he has excelled, allowing seven runs in 23 2/3 innings.
“Not concerning,” Hyde said. “I know he’s disappointed. He threw a two-inning sim game a couple of days ago and didn’t feel right. Pretty normal after a Tommy John process, and he’s thrown the ball extremely well. And we don’t want to take any chances, honestly, with it.”
When Baltimore announced its roster for the American League Division Series on Saturday, it also didn’t include right-hander Shintaro Fujinami. General manager and Executive Vice President Mike Elias made a low-risk trade for Fujinami about two weeks ahead of the deadline in a bid to bolster the bullpen. Although Fujinami has shown a high ceiling, he has struggled to find the strike zone consistently.
In his place, right-hander Bryan Baker made the squad. Baker threw 45 innings with a 3.60 ERA. Baker finished the regular season with Triple-A Norfolk.
Right-hander Jack Flaherty made the roster and is expected to work out of the bullpen. He holds a 6.75 ERA in 34 2/3 innings since joining Baltimore at the trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed three or more runs in his final six starts, all while failing to complete six innings, and finished the season in a bullpen role. Even then, Flaherty was used sparingly. He pitched only twice out of the bullpen over the final two weeks.
Elsewhere on the ALDS roster are the main cogs in Baltimore’s success. The Orioles kept 14 position players and 12 pitchers — they were allowed up to 13 — with catcher Adley Rutschman, infielder Gunnar Henderson and outfielder Cedric Mullins as the centerpieces.
Baltimore opted to keep outfielder Heston Kjerstad on the roster from the final 28-man group at the end of the season. While Kjerstad didn’t feature much in the field, the left-handed batter is a major power threat and could be useful off the bench.
With off days built in, Hyde said, the additional position player gives Baltimore more flexibility.
The Orioles’ pitching staff is much the same as it was for most of the second half. Right-handers Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez are starting Games 1 and 2, respectively, and right-handers Kyle Gibson and Dean Kremer also made the roster. The latter two right-handers could fill out the remainder of the four-man postseason rotation.
“Meansy was going to be a candidate to start one of these games, and it means we got — we feel great about our starting pitching depth,” Hyde said. “And Dean and Kyle Gibson both threw the ball extremely well this year. We’re hoping that John can take a few days off, rehab, and hopefully if we can advance that he’ll be available for the next series.”
The bullpen construction has eight full relievers: right-handers Baker, Flaherty, Yennier Canó, Jacob Webb and Tyler Wells, and left-handers Cionel Pérez, Danny Coulombe and DL Hall.
Across the infield, the Orioles have Rutschman, James McCann, Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O’Hearn, Adam Frazier, Jordan Westburg, Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías and Henderson. The outfield consists of Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Aaron Hicks and Kjerstad.
Left-hander Cole Irvin, right-hander Mike Baumann, catcher Anthony Bemboom and outfielder Ryan McKenna remain on the taxi squad. There’s also a group of players working out in Sarasota, Florida, who could be available for later rounds.
Right-Handed Pitchers (9):
Left-Handed Pitchers (3):