I’m not saying it will happen, nor even that it should happen, but the Tigers just might call up Casey Crosby from Toledo, and not because they need a left handed pitcher, although they certainly do need that.
We covered the list of potential September additions to the Tiger roster a couple weeks ago in this article. The Tigers have since sent Phil Coke to Toledo, called up Jose Alvarez, sent Alvarez down to call up Luke Putkonen. They also called up Bryan Holaday and sent him back down to Toledo. There is reason to believe that the game of musical chairs will continue through the end of August. Jim Leyland has told us that Coke and Alvarez will be two of the players who will rejoin the Tigers. Holaday is also a sure bet to be recalled once the Toledo Mud Hens' season is over on Monday, September 2nd.
When the music stops playing at midnight on August 31st, any player who is on the 25 man roster, a major league disabled list, or the suspended list is automatically qualified to be on the playoff roster. We covered the criteria for playoff roster eligibility here. In a nutshell, those who do not automatically qualify can only be added to the playoff roster in place of another eligible player who is unable to play due to injury.
If today was September first, the Tigers would have the likes of Phil Coke, Nick Castellanos, Jose Alvarez, and Bryan Holaday being not automatically qualified for the playoffs, with just one, maybe two DL players who could be replaced on the playoff roster.
Enter Casey Crosby. The oft injured left hander, once a top pitching prospect in the Tiger organization, occupies a spot on the 40 man roster, and also on the minor league disabled list. Crosby, who is not related to Bing, nor Bill, nor Norm, has been called up to the major leagues with very poor results. In twelve innings of work in the majors, Crosby has a career ERA of 9.49 and a WHIP of 2.11 to go with eleven walks, nine K’s, and two home runs. In the minors this season, Crosby has an ERA of 4.84 and a WHIP of 1.64 in just 13 starts. Quite unimpressive. But he wouldn’t be called up for his pitching.
The Tigers will undoubtedly recall either Coke, Darin Downs, and/ or Alvarez, since Drew Smyly is the only left handed pitcher currently on the major league roster. Coke is eligible to be recalled ten days after his demotion, which makes him eligible for recall on Saturday. Alvarez can not be recalled until the sooner of ten days from last Wednesday, or the end of the minor league season on Monday. Downs can be recalled at any time.
Crosby is currently on the minor league disabled list, done for the season- again. But it is possible that the Tigers could call him up to the major leagues and put him on the DL just so they could replace him on the playoff roster, even though he’s not getting anywhere near the playoff roster. Make sense? Not really, but trust me, it could happen. It has happened before.
The Los Angeles, nee Anaheim Angels set a precedent when they called up Steve Green following Tommy John surgery, put him on the DL and replaced him with Frankie (K Rod) Rodriguez who had just been called up on September 15,2002. K Rod went on to stifle hitters and help the Angels to win a World Series title.
The two players currently on the Tigers’ major league disabled lists are Octavio Dotel, who is on the 60 day DL, and Luis Marte, who is on the 15 day DL. Dotel is currently on a rehab assignment with Toledo. In 2012, he was arguably the club’s most effective relief pitcher. Should they decide to activate him, that would leave them with only one player, Marte, who could be replaced on the playoff roster. Unless another player is added to a disabled list.
Marte was also in the minor leagues when he was injured, but the Tigers called him up to Detroit first, and then placed him on the 15 day disabled list- the major league disabled list, with the knowledge that he was very likely done for the season. The reason is the same reason that they could call up Crosby. Playoff roster spots.
It does not matter whether a player is on the 15 day DL or the 60 day DL or the 7 day concussion DL when it comes to using his roster spot for post season purposes. It also matters not when the player is injured. A player simply must be eligible, but unable to play at the time that the team asks the commissioner’s office for the okay to replace him, and that’s generally a mere formality, documented by medical records.
It does help the club to put a player on the 60 day DL if they need room on the 40 man roster, because players on the 60 day DL do not count against the 40 man roster. Players on the 15 day DL count against the 40 man roster, but not against the 25 man major league roster. There are currently 39 players on the Tigers' 40 man roster, because Dotel and Peralta don't count.
So, if the Tigers want to activate Dotel from the 60 day DL, they need to have an open spot on the 40 man roster. They could designate a player for assignment. Or, they could call up Crosby and move him to the 60 day DL. That would both open a spot on the 40 man roster and give them another valuable playoff spot. Crosby would be a prime candidate to be cut from the roster in November when the spot is needed to protect a young prospect such as Daniel Fields in advance of the Rule 5 draft.
Or let’s say the Tigers want to add Nick Castellanos, who is currently not on the 40 man roster, and Dotel has taken up the last roster spot. They could move Crosby, or Marte, to the 60 day DL and that would open up a spot for their top prospect.
There is some downside to calling up a player just to put him on the disabled list. The player then starts to accrue major league service time, and he also earns major league salary of almost half a million dollars per season. That didn’t seem to be a problem with calling up Marte, and it would hardly stop them from calling up Crosby. If it means they can put together the 25 guys that could help them to win Mr. Ilitch and the fans of Detroit a World championship, Casey Croby may yet make his biggest contribution to the Tigers without throwing a pitch this season.