Tigers finalize Division Series roster
Porcello, Penny both make roster; Game 4 starter to be decided
NEW YORK -- Two years after Rick Porcello nearly pitched the Tigers into the postseason at age 20, he's on the roster for the American League Division Series. So, too, is veteran hurler is Brad Penny, who helped win a World Series for the Florida Marlins in 2003.
The Tigers placed all five members of their regular-season rotation on the 25-man roster for their series against the Yankees. They'll go with a four-man rotation and use the other starter out of the bullpen, but at this point, they haven't yet announced who would start in a potential Game 4. The only definitive statement manager Jim Leyland has made on that topic is that ace Justin Verlander will not pitch on short rest.
Detroit had kept its roster a relative secret up until Friday morning's deadline. The club didn't have many decisions to make, having already acknowledged it would go with a four-man rotation beginning with Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer.
By putting both Porcello and Penny on the roster, the Tigers will go with two left-handers in their seven-man bullpen, leaving Leyland to pick and choose his spots to use them against the Yankees' formidable lineup of left-handed hitters. Phil Coke, Detroit's fifth starter at season's open before shifting back to his old setup role at midseason, will be the primary lefty against his old squad. Daniel Schlereth, making his first postseason appearance, is expected to be used in a situational role, while right-hander Al Alburquerque and his high-strikeout slider could be called upon against lefties with runners in scoring position.
Closer Jose Valverde and setup man Joaquin Benoit head up the seven-man bullpen. Both will be making their second postseason appearances, Benoit having pitched in last year's Division Series for Tampa Bay. Valverde was Arizona's closer during its 2007 run to the National League Championship Series.
Rounding out the bullpen will be Ryan Perry, who made the roster over right-hander David Pauley and lefty Duane Below. Though Perry struggled at times down the stretch of what was an inconsistent third season for the former first-round pick, his ability to use his fastball-slider combination for outs in key situations made an impression. Perry said earlier this week that he feels as good with the mechanics of his pitching as he has at any point in his career.
With just four starters needed, the Tigers opted to use an extra position spot on Omir Santos as a reserve catcher behind Alex Avila. Though Leyland suggested last week he could put Victor Martinez behind the plate if needed -- should Avila suffer an injury -- Martinez hasn't caught a game since spraining his left knee on a slide at home plate in early August. He also left Detroit's regular-season finale Wednesday after fouling a ball off his right big toe.
Leyland could have left Santos off the roster but kept him around as a potential roster move in case of injury. But while teams can now replace injured players in the middle of a series, any player replaced in such a move wouldn't be eligible for the next round of the postseason.
Utility man Don Kelly and rookie outfielder Andy Dirks fill out the list of reserves and provide left-handed bats against the Yankees pitching staff. They're two of 12 Tigers who will be making their first postseason appearances, not counting the AL Central tiebreaker against the Twins in 2009.
Brandon Inge, the longest-tenured Tiger on the roster, made the team, as expected, alongside fellow third baseman Wilson Betemit, who returned from inflammation in his left knee to play in Detroit's final two regular-season games. One of them will get the start in Game 1 on Friday night against Yankees lefty and familiar foe CC Sabathia.
Neither Santos nor Dirks were on the 25-man roster Aug. 31, which is usually the deadline for players to be active in order to be eligible for the postseason. However, they qualified as injury replacements for Brad Thomas and Joel Zumaya, both of whom are on the disabled list. Brennan Boesch is also on the DL, though he'll travel with the team while he recovers from season-ending surgery on his right thumb.