Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
What Joe Girardi Has to Play With
The Orioles may have a better bullpen than the Yankees, but Girardi may have the stronger bench. He has a player for pretty much every situation.
If Girardi needs a left-handed hitter with power, he can call on either Raul Ibanez or Eric Chavez. They've combined to hit 34 home runs this season, including six in September.
If Girardi needs a right-handed hitter with power, he can turn to either Casey McGehee or Andruw Jones. Neither of them has done much lately, but both of them are good fits for Oriole Park's short left-field porch.
If Girardi needs a stolen base in a pinch, he now has Brett Gardner to call on. He only has two steals this season thanks to his lengthy injury absence, but he still has the speed to swipe a bag if need be. He can also be used as a late-inning defensive replacement out in left field.
Another defensive replacement Girardi can call on is Chris Dickerson, who is capable of playing all three outfield spots. He can also hit a little bit, as he's posted a 1.207 OPS in limited action this season.
The bad news is that versatile infielder Jayson Nix is out for the foreseeable future with a hip problem, which means that Eduardo Nunez is Girardi's primary backup infielder by default. He has good tools, but he can be erratic in the field.
Even still, Girardi has a deep bench to work with. He'll make good use of it if he has to on Thursday in Baltimore.
What Buck Showalter Has to Play With
Girardi has a little bit of everything on his bench. Fortunately for the Orioles, so does Buck Showalter.
In the last week or so, Jim Thome has emerged as a major asset for Showalter to bring off the bench. In his last seven games, Thome has compiled a 1.031 OPS with a homer, two doubles and four RBI. If Showalter needs a homer late in the game, he won't hesitate to turn to Thome if he's on the bench.
Another bench player who has provided good value for Showalter is Endy Chavez. He can play all three outfield spots, and he still has enough speed to get around the bases if the O's need to manufacture a run.
Baltimore's bench also includes Ryan Flaherty, who can play pretty much every position on the field. He's also shown off some power this season, especially lately. Flaherty has slugged two home runs in the last week.
Steve Tolleson is another guy Showalter can play all over. While he doesn't hit much, he plays good defense regardless of what position he's playing at a given moment (see his FanGraphs metrics).
And then there's Lew Ford. He doesn't play or hit all that much, but he has a solid .769 OPS against the Yankees this season. Showalter won't hesitate to use him against the Bombers.
Showalter won't hesitate to use anybody, for that matter. On his ship, everyone plays. More often than not, everyone contributes, too.