Thoughts on the Detroit Tigers’ Final Postseason Roster Bench Spot


Aug 8, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Hernan Perez (26) celebrates after scoring during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is over and we’re three days away from the start of the playoffs, but we don’t yet know the full extent of the postseason roster. As far as position players are concerned, 13 of the 14 spots are pretty well spoken for:

Alex Avila, Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Iglesias, Andy Dirks, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, and Victor Martinez will start every game in the ALDS (barring injury) since the Oakland Athletics don’t look to have a left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation and platoons won’t be used.

Brayan Pena, Ramon Santiago, Don Kelly, and Jhonny Peralta all seem to have safe spots on the bench. That leaves one spot for three logical candidates.

I still consider Matt Tuiasosopo to be the leader for the last spot because (1) manager Jim Leyland is nothing if not loyal to his guys and (2) neither of the other two guys have stepped up in a particularly outstanding fashion. But we can’t ignore the fact that Tui hit .000/.091/.000 in the month of September (striking out 59% of the time) and has hit just .152/.239/.190 since the All-Star break (36% strikeouts). If Tuiasosopo isn’t hitting he brings nothing to the roster, and Peralta’s presence reduces the need for a right-handed stick on the bench. He maintains some ability to play the outfield — something we’re not yet sure that Peralta can do — but he’d be the second best defensive option behind Don Kelly anyway.

Hernan Perez may have snuck his way on to the roster late, and not really by anything he did to earn the spot. He hit just .100/.100/.100 in September (only 10 PA) and just .197/.217/.227 for the season, but if Peralta is really any sort of option in the outfield, then perhaps a relatively speedy pinch running option is really what the team needs. Especially if Don Kelly is going to be needed for late-game defensive duties in left field (because they wouldn’t leave Jhonny out there with the game on the line). Tui’s massive flameout and the fact that they never seemed to give Nick Castellanos a real shot to go out there and claim a spot may make Perez the most useful player they could take.

Nick Castellanos didn’t set the world on fire by any means, but he at least hit for some average in his first stint in the big leagues, hitting .278/.278/.278. I think he’s the best bet if what they really want with the 14th spot on the roster is a potentially useful bat, but he’s not a great defensive option and would be no better than the third or fourth pinch running option. If it were me, I’d probably go with Castellanos, but I’m guessing he’s 3rd on Leyland’s list here.

We’ll have to wait and see how things shape up. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three are travelling with the team anyway (in case someone gets hurt and you need a roster replacement), but really, the 14th man on the roster is going to make a tiny impact (if any at all).