We're just a couple days away from Sept. 1, the day the rosters expand. So the question that comes to everyone -- OK, it's been coming to everyone for a month now -- is what minor league players will be making the drive to Detroit for a month in the big leagues.
But here's an additional wrinkle: The playoff roster is "set" on the last day of August. So some changes may have to be made before Thursday to get the proper number of position players and pitchers on the roster. Right now there are five starting pitchers and seven relievers. So I'd expect at least one reliever to be swapped out for a position player. (Recalling Andy Dirks early would make the most sense to me).
The Tigers have not traditionally been a team that hands out rewards. Their operating philosophy is basically to ask if there's a role the player can fill with some regularity. Jim Leyland doesn't like having a crowded clubhouse or a bench full of well-paid spectators. If the player isn't going to contribute something unique, the player probably isn't going to get the call.
So with that as our starting point, here are a couple of suggestions for players who will end up in Detroit in September. (Not necessarily on Sept. 1 exactly.)
99% FOR SURE
Jacob Turner -- The Tigers have already announced the top pitching prospect will make his second MLB start on Thursday. So he's a for-sure. (If they believe they'll want him on the playoff roster, he's going to have to come up a day earlier. I don't think they will do that, though).
Omir Santos -- The last thing the Tigers need is to wear Alex Avila out before the playoffs. Recalling catcher Omir Santos, who was in Detroit when Miguel Cabrera went on paternity leave, will help Avila get a little time off. I expect the Tigers will still treat Avila like an iron man, but every little bit helps. I don't think Santos will be called up before the 1st.
Andy Dirks -- The outfielder was basically guaranteed a return to Detroit when he was optioned to Toledo. He suffered a slight injury while with the Hens', but according to the Coop Scoop blog he should be returning to normal duties with tonight's game. If he is in fact healthy, I can see him coming up by Wednesday's game with a reliever being optioned to Toledo only to return in September.
Carlos Guillen will be rehabbing with the Mud Hens and returning to Detroit when healthy.
(I can see these players returning but I don't think I see the as necessary.)
Danny Worth -- Worth was already in Detroit once in the past couple of days, filling in for Don Kelly when he was on paternity leave. Worth was optioned to Toledo on Saturday. Worth gives the Tigers an above-average defensive replacement at multiple infield positions, and we know Leyland loves to take advantage of defensive replacements.
Andrew Oliver -- He seems more like he's bound for the bullpen anyway. A strikeout/walk guy just profiles that way. Plus the rotation appears to be set for years without him in it. It would make sense to bring him up to see what he's got.
(I don't think these guys add a whole lot but I don't rule them out.)
Will Rhymes -- Ryan Raburn jammed his thumb. However, Ramon Santiago has been holding down the position acceptably this month. He kind of slumped a bit but went 4-for-4 in yesterday's game. Meanwhile, Rhymes has major league experience and had been called up earlier this month.With Guillen returning, I don't see a good argument for Rhymes, but I guess I don't rule it out.
Adam Wilk, Brayan Villarreal -- I don't know that either player really adds a lot to the bullpen, based on past experience and the way Leyland uses the bullpen now. (David Pauley, we hardly know you!) So I don't feel like they have to be brought up in September. But I certainly don't rule either player out.
(The rest of the 40 man roster ...)
Clete Thomas -- I don't think he's high on the Tigers' list any more, to be honest.
Ryan Strieby -- First base and DH are far too well covered.
Cale Iorg -- The Tigers don't seem to have any faith in him and he's taken a step back defensively.
By my count 39 of 40 roster spots are used, so the Tigers could purchase the contract of a player not on the roster and call him up. C'mon up, Timo Perez!
I have been told Toledo manager Phil Nevin will join the Tigers as soon as the Mud Hens' season ends.