Faced with the task of adding four starting pitchers to the American League Division Series roster that were excluded from the one-game wild-card team, Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided to go with Tommy Hunter's experience in the postseason and as a reliever over three other young pitchers who were available to play Friday in Texas.
To fill out the ALDS roster, the Orioles added Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman while removing infielder Omar Quintanilla and a trio of pitchers who were key for the club at different points this season: Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton.
The exclusion of Johnson, who is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA but hasn't pitched since Sept. 29 due to a left knee injury, was the biggest surprise.
"As good as we think Steve could be, there's some unknown there with the knee," Showalter said.
Johnson likely would be the first to be activated if a pitcher had to be removed from the roster due to injury. Roster replacements through the remainder of the ALDS can only be made if an injury occurs; a pitcher only can replace a pitcher, and a position player can only replace a position player. A new roster will be submitted if the Orioles make the American League Championship Series.
Johnson, Arrieta, Quintanilla and Steve Tolleson will remain with the Orioles for now, although not active. Britton and outfielder Xavier Avery will leave Monday for Sarasota, Fla., and play in instructional league games to stay active.
"Every one of those guys, as I told them today, has to have the mindset that they're playing tomorrow, because they could be," Showalter said. "They could be playing tomorrow [if there is an injury]."
Ultimately, Showalter decided that Hunter's experience in the 2010 playoffs for the Texas Rangers — which included starting a World Series game — and his recent strong performance out of the bullpen separated him from a crowded group.
In his last 10 games, all in relief, Hunter is 3-0 and has allowed just one run in 12 2/3 innings (0.71 ERA) while striking out 12 and allowing two walks.
"Tommy pitched very well out of the pen," Showalter said. "When we acquired Tommy, we felt like if we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too. And he's certainly done that since he's pitched out of the pen. Plus, he can give us some length out of there if we need it."
Around the horn
Daniel Borowy, the Perry Hall High School student that was shot Aug. 27 in the school's cafeteria, and Perry Hall guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, who tackled the gunman that day, threw out the ceremonial first pitches on Sunday night. Injured players Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, the two most tenured Orioles, were the ceremonial catchers. ... The first postseason pitch in fifteen years at Camden Yards was a 94 mph called strike from Orioles starter Jason Hammel to Yankees leadoff hitter Derek Jeter at 8:41 p.m. The start of the game was delayed two hours and 26 minutes because of rain. ... Infielder Wilson Betemit (wrist) has taken full batting practice the past two days in Sarasota, Fla. He is considered a possibility for the ALCS roster if the Orioles advance. … The Orioles are 2-0 in AL Division Series, beating the Cleveland Indians in 1996 and the Seattle Mariners in 1997. ... The Orioles and Yankees split their 18 regular season games this year, with the Orioles winning six of nine in the Bronx and the Yankees taking six of nine at Camden Yards.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times