The Detroit Tigers certainly don’t have the American League Central Division all wrapped up, but their 7.5 game lead (entering Wednesday) is nothing short of comfortable. They still have work to do in order to officially clinch the crown (and the accompanying ALDS qualification), but perhaps the most interesting question surrounding the team at the present juncture (to me, at least) is who will comprise the postseason roster.
I wrote yesterday that the team’s usage of top prospect Nick Castellanos doesn’t suggest that getting him ready for the playoffs is a top priority for the organization, but I thought it might be an interesting exercise to chronicle the useage of Detroit September-call-up type hitters. Because of the way the playoff schedule is structured with ‘extra’ days off, teams can get away with having only 11 pitchers meaning that one of these ‘non-regular’ position players can be included on the roster.
Here are the ‘extra’ players that would be eligible. Well, technically any hitter in the organization would be eligible to replace a player on the disabled list (such as Luis Marte), but let’s assume that the Tigers would call up any such player to the big leagues before simply including them on the postseason roster. Here’s a list of such players (basically the September call-up types plus the suspended Jhonny Peralta):
Hernan Perez: Used as a pinch runner on August 31; zero plate appearances.
Nick Castellanos: Pinch hit on September 1; two plate appearances.
Danny Worth: Used as a pinch runner on September 3, zero plate appearances.
Bryan Holaday: Hasn’t appeared.
Jhonny Peralta: Suspended
Leaving out the chance that Jim Leyland simply decides to keep an extra bullpen arm – an unlikely event after the Tigers made an extra effort to call up Perez on August 31 to set the 14 hitter, 11 pitcher ratio – the 25th spot on the postseason roster will almost assuredly come from this list of players. Every other bench player (Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Brayan Pena) have started at least one game since the September 1 roster expansion date, but none of the call-up types have.
This may be because, hey, we’re only four days into September now, so give it all some time, but it may also indicate that the Tigers aren’t really planning on any of these guys in October. It may indicate that they’re just here to provide depth and that the organization doesn’t want them to take much playing time away from the guys who are preparing for the playoffs.
Of all the newbies I would give the slightest edge to Perez. He’s the guy with the most major league playing time this season, and he was the guy that was called up on August 31. Close behind him would be Castellanos who would be the only one of the four who could be expected to hit at an rate even close to league average, and what the team probably doesn’t need is another glove-only infielder. Worth and Holaday would appear to be long, long shots.
But, until the team starts giving real playing time (probably in the form of actual starts) to any of these players, I’m going to assume that Peralta – the only sure-fire big league hitter on the list – is the top candiate to be included on the roster.