All I write is 25 man roster stories anymore – or so it seems, anyway. Here’s hoping that in a little over a week, I am going to write another one in preparation for the World Series.
Truthfully, there is little to analyze at this point: both manager and general manager are – for maybe the first time in this duos’ combined tenure – actually comfortable with this unit.
- Shields, Ventura, Guthrie, Vargas, Duffy, Holland, Davis, Herrera, Finnegan, Frasor, Collins
- Perez, Hosmer, Infante, Escobar, Moustakas, Gordon, Cain, Aoki, Butler, Dyson, Kratz, Colon, Gore, Willingham
Tim Collins’ is in italics as he is likely the only one that might not make the transition from ALDS roster to ALCS roster. He was a surprise addition before the Angels’ series and surprised us further by appearing in a high leverage situation and, surprisingly, performing well in said situation. I think he probably comes back again, but a move to a different lefty (Francisely Bueno or Scott Downs) is always a possibility.
A dark horse to the mix might be Liam Hendriks. With rain sprinkled (get it?) throughout the forecast for this series, the scenario of playing a couple of innings, sitting for two hours and then resuming looms as a real possibility. Your starter is burned and even if piece together the rest of the game using the bullpen, you might well have a game the next day. At some point, the Royals may opt for innings. Plus, even in the playoffs, junk innings sometimes come up. Up or down by eight runs in the seventh, do you really want Ned Yost sending out Finnegan or Herrera?
Now, the Royals like to think too much sometimes, and could bounce off enough walls to think they need TWELVE pitchers. I doubt they will go there as that means dropping Terrance Gore, your pinch running weapon of choice, or Josh Willingham, the only guy you actually would use to pinch hit for anyone.
They could also consider going with just ten pitchers, given that one of the starters (likely Duffy) will be in the bullpen full-time, and take another bat into the ALCS. That means, Raul Ibanez or Jayson Nix: handy to have around if the game goes 13 innings, but only in the sense that someone has to stand in each of the nine positions on the diamond. That scenario also assumes that the Royals are 100% confident that both Duffy and Herrera are completely healthy.
In the end, I believe we will find ourselves with the 25 men listed above and, at this point, that seems just about right. Yost is comfortable with that group and is almost on autopilot in how to use them – which is not a bad thing.
We know the nine starters and that Gore will pinch-run when the Royals trail or are tied late. We know Dyson will come on at some point in the last three innings in place of Aoki and that Willingham might pinch hit against a left-handed reliever (or if Gore’s turn comes up in the order).
We know that Herrera might pitch in the sixth if needed and certainly the seventh if the Royals are ahead. We know that Finnegan will pitch as often as the HDH combo – another good thing. You can bet on Danny Duffy in extra innings.
Sure, Ned could surprise us and I almost never like Ned surprises, but you can likely guess 95% of every pitching and position player change that is going to be made and, at this point, with this roster, it is going to be hard to argue with very many of them. It took a long time to get here, but this is a comfortable group being used in mostly logical fashion.
Feels like a real life baseball organization, doesn’t it?