Al Alburquerque appears healthy and ready to go in the playoffs.
I spent a lot of time last week writing about the Tigers' playoff roster. I gave you 22 players who I think are locks or near locks, and 7 players who I think are up for competition. And I let everyone vote their feelings on the matter. While I gave a bit of "in or out?" opinion, I never took the time to figure out if I actually added up to 25 or anything.
So here's an update on where things stand.
Our original 22 still look pretty good. So I still like LHP Daniel Schlereth's chances. I like OF Andy Dirks' chances. RHP Al Alburquerque proved his health is fine, so he's made it. And 2B Carlos Guillen does not appear to be healthy enough to play, so he'll miss out for that reason. One issue is Wilson Betemit. He has not played since injuring his knee against Oakland on Sept. 16, though MLB.com's Jason Beck reported he is on track to return today.
UPDATE: Leyland told MLB.com about Betemit: "He's not right." Which could make an extra roster spot available.
So that leaves two spots for pitchers, and one for a position player.
I think RHP Ryan Perry gets one of those. Not always enjoyable to watch, he seemed the closest thing to a lock without actually being one. Jim Leyland uses him regularly, and he has approximated fine. He'll be more of a sixth inning reliever.
The second one is harder to predict. Here's the issue. RHP Brad Penny isn't very good. I think he did pitch his way off the roster. RHP David Pauley has not been very good while in Detroit. He seems to allow runs every time he takes the mound. In September, that's four out of six games. And LHP Duane Below just isn't used all that often by Leyland. Below has been used just three times in September, the most recent Sept. 20. In two of the three appearances this month, he gave up runs. In three of his last four appearances, he gave up multiple runs. Thickening this pudding is that Pauley has a career-long reverse split of being harder on left-handers than right-handers. That is especially true in 2011 -- we're talking a difference of about .320 OPS. His line against lefty batters is .194 avg, .235 OBP, .248 SLG. That's the kind of number Leyland might notice.
Ultimately, it might be a toss up. But I think Pauley makes it because Leyland just doesn't seem to be preparing Below for the playoffs.
That brings us to the position battle.
It appears to be down to INF Danny Worth and 2B Will Rhymes competing for the last spot. C Omir Santos cannot be ruled out either, though he seems like a long shot. Both Worth and Rhymes are slated for the Arizona Fall League, but the playoffs take priority.
Worth has played in five of the past six games. He has been used as a pinch runner several times without mishap. He's came in as a defensive replacement at third base as well. As we said, he can play every infield position, allowing Leyland more flexibility in late games and with Ramon Santiago. Rhymes has pinch run twice in the past week and hasn't spent any time in the field.
I do not rule Rhymes out, but I think Worth is clearly the favorite to get that 25th spot. So Worth, who was not on the Tigers' roster the last day in August, will use one of the available wildcard spots made available by having three players on the DL. Andy Dirks uses another.
So there you have it. If Betemit is healthy, I'll make no changes to my original 22, and add Perry, Pauley and Worth to round out the list.
Just to make it easier for you, here's my complete 25:
Pitching (11 total)
1. SP Justin Verlander
2. SP Doug Fister
3. SP Max Scherzer
4. SP Rick Porcello
5. CL Jose Valverde
7. LHP Phil Coke
8. RHP Al Alburquerque
9 LHP. Daniel Schlereth
10. RHP Ryan Perry
11. RHP David Pauley
Position players (14 total)
12. C Alex Avila
13. 1B Miguel Cabrera
14. 2B/SS Ramon Santiago
15. SS Jhonny Peralta
16. 3B Wilson Betemit
17. OF Delmon Young
18. OF Austin Jackson
19. OF Magglio Ordonez
20. DH Victor Martinez
21. Don Kelly
22. OF Ryan Raburn
23. OF Andy Dirks*
24. 3B Brandon Inge
25. INF Danny Worth*
* For playoff eligibility purposes, takes the place of a player on the DL