Predicting a Baltimore Orioles 26-man playoff roster

Who are the 26 players that could end up on the Orioles playoff roster?
Barring health, Cedric Mullins is one of many long-time O's who will likely make his first playoff appearance
Barring health, Cedric Mullins is one of many long-time O's who will likely make his first playoff appearance / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Who are the 26 players the Orioles could carry on a playoff roster?

1. The Pitchers

Grayson Rodriguez
Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

1. Kyle Bradish, RHP

Despite taking a 104 MPH line drive off his leg in his season debut in Texas, Kyle Bradish has arguably been the Orioles' best starting pitcher this season and is the most likely candidate to start Game 1 of a playoff series. The 26 year-old right-hander, who is 10-6 on the year with a sparkling 3.03 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 139.2 innings, could even garner a few votes for the AL Cy Young award this year.

I have always found him comparable to former Orioles' righthander Chris Tillman who, by the way, started two Game 1s in the 2014 American League Playoffs, as well as the ill-fated 2016 Wild Card game in Toronto. Hopefully for Bradish and the Orioles, their luck is better in 2023.

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP

It's hard to say enough good things about Grayson Rodriguez. After Rodriguez, the former number one pitching prospect in baseball, was demoted in May following a string of tough starts, he returned with a vengeance and is arguably lining himself up to start one of the first two games of the playoffs. Since returning to the Orioles on July 17 for a home start against the Dodgers, Rodriguez has pitched to a 2.86 ERA in 8 starts.

His last start? Six innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Chicago.

3. Dean Kremer, RHP

After an uneven first few months, Dean Kremer has been on a roll of late, pitching to a 2.37 ERA in August and a 3.45 ERA in July. He lines up to start the Orioles' third post-season game.

4. Cole Irvin, LHP

Bradish, Rodriguez, and Kremer as starters 1-3 is hard to argue against. But to the extent the Orioles want to keep their starters on as normal rest as possible in the playoffs, they will need a fourth starter. While a month ago this spot seemed like Kyle Gibson's (or Jack Flaherty's) spot to lose, it now belongs to Cole Irvin, who has pitched well since returning to the rotation in August.

Should Orioles' fans feel great about Irvin? Perhaps not, but with Kyle Gibson (5.15 ERA) and Jack Flaherty (6.72 ERA with Orioles) pitching themselves out the playoff rotation as of late, Irvin has looked like a solid choice.

5. Yennier Cano, RHP

While perhaps not as dominant as he was to begin the season, All-Star Yennier Cano has pitched better of late and assumed the closer's role with the devastating injury to Felix Bautista. A ninth-inning home run to Christian Walker yesterday notwithstanding, Orioles fans should feel pretty confident with Cano at the back end of the bullpen.

6. Danny Coulombe, LHP

Another shrewd under-the-radar pickup by Mike Elias, Coulombe has been stellar, going 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA out of the bullpen. He has not allowed a run in four appearances since returning from injury, and can be counted on by Brandon Hyde to retire tough lefties (i.e. Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Corey Seager, Jordan Lowe, etc.) the Orioles are likely to see in the playoffs.

7. Cionel Perez, LHP

Cionel Perez has righted the ship in August after a rough start to his 2023 season, and easily earns a spot on the playoff roster. Despite the rocky start, the 27 year-old lefthander checks in with a solid 4-1 record and 3.55 ERA. Orioles fans can expect him to be a solid middle relief option.

8. Jacob Webb, RHP

Jacob Webb has gone from Orioles' anonymity to a trusted, right-handed reliever out of the Orioles' bullpen. Brandon Hyde will count on Webb to get tough righthanded hitters (i.e. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Marcus Semien, Randy Arozarena, Julio Rodriguez, etc.) out during the playoffs.

9. DL Hall, LHP

The Orioles have happily welcomed DL Hall back to their bullpen following his mediocre debut in the pen in 2022. The top prospect lefty has been a weapon since rejoining the Orioles after Felix Bautista went on the IL, striking out 12 and allowing only 2 runs in 7.2 innings. As Owl City reminded us, every mushroom cloud has its silver lining. For the O's, Hall's emergence is the silver lining to Bautista's devastating injury.

10. Shintaro Fujinami, RHP

Shintaro Fujinami has been the ultimate enigma for the Orioles since they acquired him on July 19, 2023 from Oakland. On some days, he is absolutely dominant (see his outstanding, 4 strikeout outing over 2 hitless innings against the Yankees on July 30). On other days, he is unpitchable (remember when he hit two batters in a row with the bases loaded in Toronto?). But Brandon Hyde seems committed to getting Fujinami right, using him in low leverage situations to boost his confidence.

While he won't be the first guy getting a call to warm up in the playoffs, Hyde may need to roll the dice and turn to Fuji for a big strikeout or two in the late innings of a playoff game. Apologies to my cousin Max, who would prefer Fujinami be left off the playoff roster.

11. John Means, LHP

Means is, by default, the biggest question mark. He has not thrown a pitch in the majors since an April 13, 2022 start against the Brewers, which led to Tommy John Surgery and a long recovery. But, Means has pitched well for Triple-A Norfolk in his rehab and appears close to returning. While it is unclear whether he will start or relieve, I carry him as a bulk-innings reliever who could jump in if a starter is knocked out early. Health permitting, of course.

12. Kyle Gibson, RHP

This spot was supposed to go to Tyler Wells, who was outstanding for the Orioles in the first half of the season before being optioned for a reset in late July. But with Wells dealing with arm fatigue recently, this spot goes to Kyle Gibson. Despite the rough 5.15 ERA, Gibson has shown an ability to get outs and pitch a bunch of innings for the Orioles.

Like Means, he makes the team as a bulk relief option and spot starter in case of injury. On a team completely lacking in playoff experience, it does not hurt that Gibson has some. Joey Krehbel and Jack Flaherty also received consideration for this final pitching spot, but ultimately it goes to Gibson.