There’s still time for the Phillies to change their mind before playoff rosters are due, but all indications are that they’ll go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that David Herndon and Joe Blanton are likely competing for the final bullpen spot and Domonic Brown will not be on the roster as an extra outfielder, instead heading to an instructional league to stay ready in case the Phillies need him later on.
Herndon has thrown 56 innings with a 3.38 ERA, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio and home run rate are both far less impressive than his ERA and Blanton has looked pretty solid as a reliever since coming off the disabled list.
What’s interesting about the Phillies’ apparent decision to carry an 11th pitcher instead of Brown is that teams rarely use more than eight or nine pitchers in the playoffs, because the rotation shrinks from five to three or four and the setup men and closers take nearly all of the bullpen work. Philadelphia’s excellent starting pitching makes them even less likely to need all those extra arms.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.