Updating the potential roster picture: Friday

What ended up being a regrettable finale for Jacob Turner ended up being a good day for helping the Tigers sort out their bullpen. Al Alburquerque got the inning he needed, and while he wasn’t as sharp as he’ll need to be come postseason play in a week, he was healthy. He’ll sit on Friday, then Jim Leyland hopes to test him with an inning each on Saturday and Sunday.

Assuming Alburquerque gets through that, I’d say he’s pretty much a lock for the postseason roster, leaving Leyland and the Tigers with one less bullpen decision. If you count the guys who are good to go (Valverde, Benoit, Schlereth, Coke, Alburquerque if he’s healthy), it could leave with maybe only one or two.

“I don’t think there’s any secret we’re looking,” Leyland said. “That’s as simple as it is. There’s no sense in trying to hide that from the players. There’s no sense in trying to hide that from the media, the fans. At some point, we’re going to have to decide on a roster.”

Some of that could depend on who the Tigers face. A meeting with the Yankees or Red Sox could place a premium on lefty relievers for a pitching staff that doesn’t have a lefty starter. Granted, the Tigers like some of their righties against left-handed hitters, especially Benoit and Alburquerque, but that doesn’t mean they’ll try to leverage that strength rather than play an opponent’s weakness.

Duane Below isn’t a lefty reliever by the stereotype, but he’s a lefty. And while lefties have hit him a little bit harder, his strikeout-to-walk ratio against them in his limited time is much stronger. It’s that skill that would be a stronger ticket onto the postseason roster than long relief, which becomes less of a necessity in a short series but still potentially useful for damage control later in the series. If the Tigers have to reliever Justin Verlander or Doug Fister early in one of the first two games, they have much deeper trouble than long relief.

That same issue seemingly doesn’t play in Pauley’s favor, being right-hander. But while he took the loss, Leyland said he looked better.

“In fairness to him, he really hasn’t gotten to pitch a whole lot since he’s been here,” Leyland said. “So we’re trying to get him some work as well.”

Perry, Leyland said, looked better as well. He’s had more good outings lately, Leyland said, than subpar ones.

“But he still needs a little more consistency,” Leyland said.

For a postseason pitching staff, if the decision’s on talent, there’s a spot for Perry, the former first-round pick with a penchant for quick, solid innings. But he might help his case just as much of he can avoid breakdowns like he had in Oakland, though that one admittedly came the afternoon after the Tigers’ division celebration.

The Tigers still need to know more on Wilson Betemit and Carlos Guillen before they can make decisions on the positional roster. If Betemit’s fine, their decisions whittle down tremendously. Guillen said he isn’t sure about his readiness for the postseason in a week. He can neither run nor swing a bat yet, and his Thursday work was limited to therapy.

Betemit, meanwhile, has hopes of playing Friday. Assuming he’s ready for the postseason, he slots in well as part of a third-base mix with Brandon Inge. Right field could be a three-man mix with Magglio Ordonez, Don Kelly and Andy Dirks. Yes, Dirks and Kelly both bat left-handed, but if the Tigers choose to keep Dirks, that could free up Kelly for a late-inning role in the outfield or third base. Dirks also brings some speed to him.

Add the Santiago/Raburn mix at second, and if the Tigers keep Dirks, they’re left with one more position spot, and a few different ways they can go.

- They could protect themselves at catcher by keeping Omir Santos. Yes, they have the option of making a roster move mid-series if Alex Avila were to be injured. But if they did that, by rule, he would have to miss the next round. That’s a huge conundrum if Avila were to have a day-to-day injury. Leyland said Thursday he can catch Martinez if he wanted, surprising all of us. But the fact remains that he hasn’t, not even for an inning in a blowout.

- They could go with another runner with Will Rhymes, and a batter who can lay down a bunt in a key situation. That might make better sense in the later rounds than it does now, but it’s still possible.

- They could add Guillen if he’s healthy. That’s sounding like a big if right now.

- They could add Danny Worth, but that would seemingly make more sense if Betemit or another infielder isn’t able to go.

20 Comments

“Obviously, you could see the rust on Jacob,” Leyland said. “That’s OK. We didn’t expect much different.”
Heckuva an admission for someone who is espousing to win ball games at this time.

Agreed Dan, but if this is a tansitional game to set things in place the rest of the way then it was worth it. If….and I say if this is not the case and the Tigers are not ‘Pedal to the Metal’ the rest of the way I’d be concerned. I expect the Tigers to be business as usual and work opposing pitchers, bunt, move the runners over and really practice the art of winning a ballgame. I expect the Manager of the Year to act like it and his team to be the evidence of it. To not be at least the image of the attitude and work ethic that got them here would be a dissapointment on the scale of ’09, at least to me. The reason is that it would again indicate that a certain maturity has not yet occured.

I so wanted a bunt last night by Jhonny in I think the 6th inning, instead he hit into a double play. Am guessing he can’t bunt or the skip assumed he would hit something better. He has had a good year but seems a bit lost right now. The winning run last night by the O’s was scored on such a bloop, too bad for the pitcher on that, but those are the breaks. Nice to see Young crank one out.

so who is pitching tonight? I thought I heard JV was pitching on Saturday.

How many games does the Tigers needs to win to play in homefield advantage?

Zero to six, depending on what Texas does.
Starting Turner was the price paid for moving Fister to #2. That’s basically why we lost last night. There’s no way that Turner was going to pitch well.
The playoff roster is more of a discussion matter. Everyone pretty much knows who is on it, barring injuries. The goal now is to beat out Texas, and that’s within reach. I see no reason to change the way we do things.

wait, y was there no way turner was going to pitch well? I thought he did alright last time out there….

He hadn’t pitched since September 1st, I think it was. Three weeks ago. Can’t expect much in that scenario.

hmm i guess that is a good point – yea, they don’t have those boys pitching like simulated games or anything?

They could have thrown Below for 3 or 4 and then pitch by comittee. This would have given Below his work and a prescribed amount of work for the pen. As it was, Coke threw to ONE hitter. He hasn’t thrown much and could use a bit more regular work than that.
I too was curious about Turner, but had my curiosity satisfied after the Jones homer. I would have yanked him right then and there and not given him the chance to pitch to 2 more batters who also reached safely.
Anyway, the skipper can’t treat the remaining 6 games with anything other than absolute determination to win. No more experimentation.
As mentioned above, he also needs to start making demands of his everyday players that they have not been accountable for to this point.
Bunting with Peralta is an example. You can also hit & run a bit more to stay out of those rally killing DPs.
I don’t believe these guys can’t bunt. I don’t believe they like to very much or are very good at it, but they should be doing this in BP, because bunting and base-running will win or lose games for us.
JL had Inge lay one down the other day and was successful, if I remember correctly.
If a guy is not hitting he can still help out offensively. The worst thing to do is to try to overswing your way out of a slump.
Reality tells me that Guillen is not going to be able to contribute. Let’s face it, you are expecting a guy to come back as a one dimensional asset. To provid clout at the plate and he has had virtually no playing time this year (and not much the last couple of years) to confirm he will be able to do that. That’s Hope & Dream.
Carlos is one of my favourite players but this squad is so challenged defensively and speed-wise that it can’t afford to carry him on the playoff roster out of admiration or hope that he might get a hit or two.
If I had to pick Worth or Rhymes I’d go with Worth. Rhymes has a much greater chance of choking under pressure defensively than Danny does. An infield with Worth in it protecting a lead in the 9th is a better one than one with Will in it.
Rhymes may be faster (but really not much–Worth can run too) but with JL at the helm speed won’t factor much anyway.
I really am unsure about Perry vs Pauley. Pauley can get some ground balls and has better control, but he can get hit too. Perry can get dominating to a degree but can just as easily lose all confidence and end up being unable to get guys out at all.
I have a feeling JL wil go with Perry. The devil he knows I guess.

that’s a nice assessment, Dan, and one i agree with.

“He’s fine to catch. He could catch tonight if I wanted him to,” – guess that sink’s santos hopes?

(JL talking about VMart) ^^

Whelp fellas – here’s the lineup today:
Jackson CF, Kelly 3B, Young LF, Cabrera 1B, Martinez DH, Avila C, Peralta SS, Dirks RF, Santiago 2B, (Porcello P)

Looks pretty solid there ~ especially against the righty. Apparently Wilson is not ready to go yet – but hey maybe he’ll make a pinch hit appearance tonight.

Dan, I am the manager and I put on the sign to bunt. Other than Magglio or Miguel. Why force Jhonny to hot hit into the DP as was his nickname in Cleveland. WE need 4 of the next six so let’s play to win and stay hot going into the playoffs! Go Tigers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, but add anyone on the third spot. Bunting will mean take out the bat from Cabrera

Well, we can’t use Carlos as a DH cause that’s Victor’s role and Carlos would probably be a good DH. I agree with you, Dan, about Worth. That probably means SOC will go with Rhymes. I still have faith in Mr. Reliable. His bat will get hot again. The franchise lost millions in ’09 because we lost and thousands of little people (waitresses, car attendants, restaurants, and vendors suffered terrible losses because the Tigers crashed and burned. Let’s win Tigers and take home field advantage. It would make a lot of people happy and put money in their pockets.

denny mclain got arrested again. ugh what a bum (with a great arm)

“There’s never been any………like Denny………McLain” (Ernie Harwell, from the song)

A comment here about VMart:
The guy has been amazing for us. To me the most amazing thing is his unselfishness.
Here’s a guy coming in who could have demanded to be the #1 catcher.
He didn’t.
Here’s a guy who embraced the DH role instead of succumbing to its pressure.
This guy has a lot of heart and it must not be easy to watch his mates out on the field while waiting for his next turn at the bat.
I fully expect him to top MCab in the RBI department this regular season.
He’s hit a tonne and he’s done it with a sore knee and the maybe the least amount of speed in the American League.
One can only imagine how important he has been socio-emotiaonally for this team.
He may actually be the MVP of this team.

especially compared to Adam Dunn……a similar off season offensive acquisition in the Al Central.

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