The business of compiling a playoff roster is a messy one indeed. The Wild Card teams must consider many additional factors and have so many contingencies to plan for. The season is on the line, after all. Managers try building the best team they can to win one game.
For Cleveland, that meant pitchers. More pitchers. Pitchers stacked on pitchers stacked on top of more pitchers. Eleven in total, including two would-be starters if the Tribe moves on to the next round of games. The Red Sox set their roster similarly, opting for 11 pitchers on the post season roster.
Keeping starters over relievers makes sense, as those starters likely make better relievers than the guys who do that job ordinarily. It’s the hierarchy of pitching talent, really. Terry Francona dreamed on Corey Kluber, who averages 93 mph as a starter, humping his fastball in at 96 or even 97 in an all-out, one inning outing in a do-or-die game. That’s a better option than…the seventh guy in Cleveland’s usual bullpen. The Rays, conversely, only dressed nine pitchers for the battle in Cleveland. A study in contrasts, you know? (Tampa Bay will likely replace one position player with David Price for the ALDS.)
The Reds made their choices, keeping Billy Hamilton on their bench as a potential late-game weapon. Sadly, the nation was deprived the chance watching Billy run as no Red was able to getting on base on his behalf.
Unlike last season, the Atlanta Braves are spared the pain of the Wild Card game. Already home and cooled in the division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves made some…brave (?) choices in building their NLDS roster. They kept trade deadline acquisition Scott Downs off the roster, opting for left-handed starter Alex Wood as their second bullpen lefty instead.
The big news, of course, is the choice to leave struggling slugger Dan Uggla on the sidelines. Or in the pressbox. Or at home. Wherever. Not on the field, because Dan Uggla ain’t playing in the NLDS. A bold choice that could end up being the right one for Fredi Gonzalez.