Will Tigers tweak their roster for ALCS?
One misnomer about the baseball postseason is that there is no set roster for the entire postseason. There are rules to be eligible for the roster in the postseason, such as needing to be called up by Sept. 1 unless there’s an injury involved, but the postseason roster changes series by series.
With that in mind, the Tigers will turn in their roster for the ALCS Saturday morning. And one has to believe that with a matchup against the Yankees, rather than the A’s, they have some potential changes if they want.
Is this matchup, with as many as four games in front of the short right-field fence of Yankee Stadium, the one that brings Brennan Boesch back from roster purgatory and into a potential late-inning pinch-hit role?
On the flip side, is the formidable presence of Raul Ibanez, whose two home runs in a game he entered as a pinch-hitter, a strong enough reason for the Tigers to add Darin Downs or Brayan Villarreal to their bullpen?
Yes, Villarreal is right-handed. However, he held left-handed hitters to 12-for-63 (.190) with 18 strikeouts on the season. His toughest opponent against lefties was himself, with 19 walks. He’s the kind of power pitcher who could also help continue Alex Rodriguez’s struggles.
Of course, he’s also the pitcher who was notably wild in a tie game at Yankee Stadium at the end of April.
Then there’s Downs, who held lefties to 6-for-35 with 10 strikeouts but who pitched in just four games after Sept. 1. He’s a lefty, but so is Drew Smyly, and he didn’t pitch at all against Oakland.
The Tigers carried just six relievers for the Division Series, allowing them to carry five position players on their bench. If they add an extra reliever, it would probably change that balance rather than erase another reliever from the roster.
Of course, the Tigers could find a spot for an extra position player if they wanted to carry Boesch. He’s 11-for-30 lifetime at Yankee Stadium, but just one of those are home runs. He also has 11 strikeouts there, five of them over 13 plate appearances in the Bronx at the end of April.
If Jim Leyland wanted a power lefty bat on his bench as an option, or even as a decoy, Boesch would be the guy. But it’s far from a given, and the impact is up for debate.