Constructing the Indians roster for the wild card game

BY foxsports • October 1, 2013

As the Indians get set to play the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, there are decisions to be made on how the Indians roster will be put together.

The Indians went 21-6 in September with an expanded roster of 37 players - including an amazing 21 pitchers for the entire month. That luxury is no more, as the Indians have to go back to the standard 25-man roster.

Here is how a postseason roster is constructed:

1. On August 31st each team sends a list of names to the Major League Baseball office that are automatically eligible for the postseason. These names include any player on the 25-man roster at that time, any player on the disabled list (both the 15-day and 60-day), bereavement list, suspended list, and in the military.

2. If any player on the active roster is injured or any player on the disabled list prior to August 31st is still injured and unavailable to play, the Indians can petition the commissioner’s office to replace them with any player who was in the organization on August 31st provided the replacement was included on the roster of a minor league affiliate at the end of the major league season.  An example is infielder Jose Ramirez who was added to the roster after August 31st. With the permission of the commissioner’s office, the Indians can add him to the roster.

3. To get permission from the commissioner’s office, the Indians must submit an application to the commissioner’s office with medical records showing that a player cannot play. Upon receipt of this documentation, the commissioner gives his approval to replace the injured player. As with the example above, the Indians have Frank Herrmann and Lou Marson as two examples of players on the 60-day disabled list and could request to have Ramirez replace one of them as a postseason option.

4. There used to be a rule where a pitcher had to replace a pitcher and a position player had to replace a position player on the roster, but that is no more.

With all that in mind, note that the Indians will likely construct their roster much different for the wildcard game than they would for the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.

For each round of the playoffs the Indians can change the roster, and anytime an injury occurs they can replace the player on the roster. So, the Indians can set their wildcard roster for Wednesday and then change it for the American League Division Series on Friday - if they make it that far. That is key because they only need to have one starter on the wildcard roster whereas in the division series they need four starters. For the wildcard game, they can load up on extra bullpen arms, defensive specialists, and speedy pinch runners.

Here is a quick estimation on what the Indians wildcard roster might look like when it is announced later today:

Starting pitcher (1): Danny Salazar

Bullpen (7): Joe Smith, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Marc Rzepczynski, Rich Hill, Matt Albers, Justin Masterson

Infield (8): Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mike Aviles, Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher

Outfield (4): Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, Ryan Raburn

That equals 20 players, which leaves five spots to fill out the roster.

From the sounds of it the Indians will have 10 pitchers on the roster for Wednesday's game, so two more would need to be added. The top options would be Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber, Chris Perez, and Carlos Carrasco.

Kazmir and Kluber are starters, but they would add some length, and Kazmir is a possible third left-handed option if needed. Rostering Perez and risking him in any situation makes little sense, especially because he would be a distraction with all the boos that would result at Progressive Field if he entered the game in any situation. Carrasco has been very good in relief, but he also made just four appearances all of September and last pitched nine days ago.

My guess would be that Perez and Kazmir get added. Kazmir can give length if the game goes extra innings, and would also be a left-handed option to turn to. As for Perez, I just think Francona will show loyalty in him by placing him on the wildcard roster but not use him unless he absolutely has to; however, it would not be a surprise if he was left off and Carrasco was added.

That leaves three roster spots to go to three additional bench players to add some flexibility and versatility to the decisions Francona can make in the game. The options here are limited, and the only candidates are Matt Carson, Jose Ramirez, Kelly Shoppach and Jason Kubel.

Reports say that Kubel was notified he did not make the wildcard roster - if that is the case, then Carson, Ramirez and Shoppach all should make it. 

Carson is a lock to be on the roster as he was up prior to the August 31st roster deadline and has been used a lot as a defensive specialist and late inning pinch runner. Shoppach, to the surprise of some, will probably be on the roster simply because Francona will probably start Yan Gomes at catcher and Carlos Santana at designated hitter and does not want a scenario where Gomes gets hurt and has to be removed, Santana replaces him, and the loss of the designated hitter spot hurts them in a winner-take-all game. Ramirez will be added to bring another late inning pinch running option.

So there you have it. There are not too many big decisions other than going with 10 or 11 pitchers, then deciding what pitchers make up the final spots on the staff. Aside from a few quirks to constructing a playoff roster, everything is pretty academic.

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