We kicked this off with 22 likely "locks" on the Tigers' playoff roster yesterday. (Honestly, I think you could go with 23, but that would cut down on the number of posts I could milk this for so I won't.)This series will continue throughout the week. I'll begin with tonight's starting pitcher.
If you polled Tigers fans -- actually, MLive's Chris Iott did -- I'm pretty sure between 95% and 100% of them would say to leave Brad Penny off the playoff roster. But I don't know if the decision is quite so easy on the team.
I wrote about Penny two weeks ago, noting:
Penny has had a few problems lately but it's unlikely he's dramatically different than the pitcher you've seen all year.
I wrote that after a couple of bad starts in a row. For the month of September, his ERA is 5.06, setting in about midway between his June and July and almost exactly on his 2011 ERA of 5.07. There are some red flags, notably a strikeout-to-walk ratio that fell under 1 for the first time this year. It sits at 0.86. So far this month he has given up both the worst on-base percentage and worst slugging average of his 2011 season as well. However, his ground ball percentage did rebound to 50%, so the right defenders behind him could help.
By the way, after struggling in August, Rick Porcello has an ERA in in the mid-3s again in September. Suffice it to say, it doesn't take a long look at either Penny or Porcello's stats to know that Porcello should get the final rotation spot. He's just better, small sample or large.
That leaves us the same question I had before: Can Penny perform in the bullpen? We still don't know. Even if he can, is he a better choice than Duane Below, Ryan Perry, or some other wild card like Luis Marte?
Reasons Penny could make the roster:
- Veteran with playoff experience
- Started the whole year for the Tigers
- Mop-up in case of a disaster start
Reason's Penny might not make the roster:
- No room in the rotation, not a lot of experience in the bullpen
- Not having a real great season either
- Shows sign of attrition after having prior season end in May
- Not as left-handed as Below, nor as strikeout-y as Perry.
I don't see a spot for him on the playoff roster, but I still have to admit I'd be surprised if the Tigers don't find a way to take him.
What say you?