Having Brian Roberts back and healthy this season was a really exciting prospect. And it was even more devastating when he went down in the first series of the year against Tampa with a hamstring injury. The Orioles have plugged that very big hole with Ryan Flaherty (who was in the fans’ doghouse until he recently starting swinging a hot bat) and Alexi Casilla (who has gotten a few big hits for the team in limited playing time).Brian Roberts
has been waiting patiently to return to the Orioles’ lineup. He will get his chance this weekend. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Roberts’ impact in a game situation is huge. Many teams employ a 2 lead off’ hitter strategy, putting guys with speed and the ability to get n base in the 9 and 1 holes in the lineup. Using Nate McLouth and Roberts that way would make a potent offense that much more solid. But who goes in favor of Roberts? Could it be Flaherty? Ishikawa? Valencia? Ishikawa would be the most dangerous player to lose, since he is out of minor league options and the O’s don’t want to leave him on the table for the Yankees to pick up.
Another injured bird ready to come back is Wei-Yin Chen. Though the starting rotation has seemed to turn a corner over the last week of play (if you include Kevin Gausman‘s clean relief appearance after T.J. MacFarlane struggled a bit in his first major league start), the addition of Chen should serve to solidify a starting staff that has struggled all season. So who goes? That may depend on how well Zach Britton pitches tonight against the Yanks.
Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit are two other players who are rehabbing and expected to return at some point soon. Betemit’s bat is the one the O’s miss most right now, as their numbers against lefties are not as strong as they could be. Fans know how hot Reimold can get at the plate, and though the Orioles don’t lack for offense — sure! Why not add some more! Expect to see a continuing revolving door on the 25 and 40 man rosters as we have seen over the last year and a half from the Orioles. With the AL East tighter than ever, it’s not just a matter of making the team on the field as strong as possible, but also keeping talent away from the rest of the East.
Even with 4 key players on the DL, and the loss of Miguel Gonzalez for almost all of May, the Orioles sit in a good position in second place, just 3.5 games back of Boston. This team continues to find ways to win. Hopefully, the addition of Roberts, Chen, Reimold and Betemit will push the O’s back into the playoffs.