How to project the Tigers playoff roster
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday that they’ll go into their Division Series with an 11-man pitching staff and 14 position players (sorry for the mixup earlier), a result of needing just four starters. How that mix could depend on who the Tigers face in the series. No matter who they’re facing, though, they would seem to have a conundrum on how to fill out a seven-man bullpen.
Leyland took out one question about the positional roster Tuesday when he said that Avisail Garcia would start against a left-handed starting pitcher, as he has for a month now. Beyond that, though, you have to make some assumptions. Here’s an idea of some pretty safe choices:
- OF: Quintin Berry, Andy Dirks, Avisail Garcia, Austin Jackson
- IF: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago
- DH: Delmon Young
- C: Alex Avila, Gerald Laird
That leaves two more spots to be decided among the group of Brennan Boesch, Don Kelly, Danny Worth and catcher Bryan Holaday. If there was a nagging injury with a catcher, Holaday would make sense, because it would give Detroit some protection without having to move an injured catcher onto the disabled list and lose him until the World Series.
After that, it becomes a matter of the role to fill. Boesch is the left-handed power bat off the bench. Worth is a strong defensive infield option alongside Santiago. Kelly is the superutility player and potential defensive sub in the outfield, though that’s a role Garcia also fills.
As for the pitching staff, the rotation lines up after Justin Verlander with some combination of Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Rick Porcello, in no small part thanks to velocity drop and arm fatigue, appears far more likely to make the staff as a reliever than a starte.tr
With a seven-man bullpen, though, there isn’t much room.
- Closer: Jose Valverde
- Setup man: Joaquin Benoit
- Seventh inning: Octavio Dotel
- Lefty specialist: Phil Coke
- Strikeout specialist: Al Alburquerque
- Second lefty: Drew Smyly
That seemingly leaves one spot to be decided among Porcello, Brayan Villarreal, Luis Marte, Darin Downs and others. This could be where matchups and opponents have a say. One thing Leyland noted, though, is that a rainout in Game 1 would require teams to go to a five-man rotation for five games in five days.