Tigers playoff roster set for ALDS
When I took a stab at predicting the Tigers playoff roster earlier this week, it turns out I was right on 24 of the 25. The only miss was Jose Alvarez getting the spot as the second left-handed reliever, over Darin Downs.
Everything else pretty much went according to the book, when it was — more or less — unveiled by manager Jim Leyland prior to Thursday's workout in Oakland. The team later sent out the full roster.
Jhonny Peralta is on the roster, Matt Tuiasosopo is not. Hernan Perez gets the pinch-running role off the bench, while Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago are the utility guys. Luke Putkonen got the other spot in the bullpen, replacing the injured Bruce Rondon.
That leaves an already-shaky bullpen — one that's given Tigers fans heart palpitations all season long — even more short-handed.
“I think that’s probably given (anxiety) to them all year, and we’re still playing,” manager Jim Leyland said earlier this week. “Looks like we’re going to miss Cokey and Rondon the first round, and Rondon would’ve been a nice piece, no question about it. That outing (Rondon’s most recent) in Minnesota was lightning. But, hey, that’s the way it is. This is who we are, this is what we got, and we’re going to play.”
For Rondon, who had already dealt with elbow soreness early in September, only to have it clear up, then come back after the one outing in Minnesota, it was a disappointment.
“He’s just going to prepare physically, get his arm ready for hopefully the second round,” Rondon said through a translator. “He feels bad, because he wanted to be able to help this team in the first round. Everybody wants to go to the playoffs, the postseason. He feels bad, but he’s going to be ready for the next round.”
While Alvarez gives the Tigers more flexibility to go longer than Downs may have, he's not the only option the Tigers have to use against left-handed hitters late in games. There's lefty Drew Smyly, as well as Al Alburquerque, who admits he's probably pitching his best all season, at the moment.
“I think that he’s been more consistent. He still needs to be a little more consistent with his slider. He’s been very good with it at times, and he’s been fortunate with it at times,” said Leyland, who has the bonus luxury of using the right-handed Alburquerque as a weapon against left-handed hitters.
“The responsibility falls to a good situation, if he’s right, because left-handers hit about .195 off him for his career. That’s like having another left-hander.”
As far as Peralta, he doesn't feel entirely at home in left field just yet, but he's feeling more comfortable.
“Yeah, but the first game that I play, I feel more comfortable. I don’t got to say I’m the best outfielder, and everything, but I try to do my best. I think more and more (games) coming, I’m more and more comfortable,” the veteran said Tuesday, dismissing the thought that he’ll be nervous. “Not really. I don’t think I feel nervous. I think I’ll feel excited, but a new position I don’t know how it going to be. I don’t care what other position I play right now. I try to do my best I can, and to help.”
C: Brayan Pena