Jhonny Peralta is on the Detroit Tigers’ 25-man roster for the American League Division Series, which was no surprise.
Peralta, the All-Star shortstop who missed the stretch run with a 50-day suspension for PED use, has moved to left field. He hit .250 in three games at that position after returning to the team one week ago, but will come off the bench Friday night in Game 1 against the Athletics in Oakland.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has decided to start left-handed hitting Andy Dirks in left field against right-handed A’s starter Bartolo Colon. Dirks platooned during the season with right-handed hitting Matt Tuiasosopo, who was left off the roster in favor of infielder Hernan Perez.
Luke Putkonen got the last right-handed reliever spot with Bruce Rondon (elbow) out, and Jose Alvarez got the nod over Darin Downs for the second left-handed reliever role.
Lefty Phil Coke (forearm) wasn’t a consideration.
“Matt Tuiasosopo is not on, Jhonny Peralta is on, Alvarez is on and Perez is on,” Leyland told reporters in Oakland on Thursday afternoon.
Peralta, who doesn’t require platooning to be effective offensively, wasn’t the choice to start the opener.
“I’m just going to use some statistical analysis, some gut feeling, a combination of those things,” Leyland said. “Andy Dirks will start in left field tomorrow night. We’ll play it by ear and each game.
“Basically, what you do is, like every other manager, you put out the lineup that gives you the best chance to win that particular game.”
Dirks is batting .500 against Colon with one homer in eight at-bats. Peralta is .182 in 11 at-bats against Colon.
Oakland is scheduled to start four right-handers in this series, which works in favor of the Tigers, who have struggled against lefty starters. It also helps Dirks in terms of starting consideration.
Leyland might look to start Peralta, an outstanding fastball hitter, against hard-throwing rookie Sonny Gray in Game 2 on Saturday night. Gray (5-3, 2.67 ERA) has yet to face the Tigers, but has 67 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched.
Peralta is 1-for-9 (.111) against Jarrod Parker, who will start Game 3 on Monday night in Detroit. Dirks is 3-for-11 (.273) against Parker. Peralta hasn’t faced Dan Straily, who will start Game 4 on Tuesday if that game is necessary, and Dirks is hitless in three at-bats against him.
Whether to start Peralta or Dirks could become a daily story.
Peralta batted .303 overall and was a solid .282 against right-handers. He had 30 doubles and 11 homers with 55 RBIs in 409 at-bats.
Dirks hit .256 with 16 doubles, two triples and nine homers with 37 RBIs in 438 at-bats.
Although Dirks is average defensively, Peralta is a novice at the position he played for the first time in three starts at Miami.
“After the first game, I felt comfortable,” Peralta told me Tuesday. “I’m not saying I am the best, but I try to do my best.
“For me, I am happy to be here. I want to say thank you to the team for a second chance.”
Detroit elected to keep Perez (.197, five RBIs, one stolen base and 66 at-bats), who can pinch-run, over Tuiasosopo, who could provide power as a pinch-hitter.
Tuiasosopo (.244, seven homers, 30 RBIs) had a great first half, but slumped badly after the All-Star break.
Alvarez (1-5, 5.82) didn’t separate himself as a choice over Downs (0-2, 4.84), but could be the long reliever should a starter get roughed up.