Sep 26, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals take batting practice before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Royals have won their first Central Division title in franchise history, and will play in their second consecutive post season for the first time since 1984-1985. With four games remaining in the regular season, now is a good time to look at who will make the 25-man playoff roster.
First, let’s look at the rules. Only players on the 25-man roster or the disabled, bereavement, family medical emergency, and paternity lists are eligible to play for KC Royals in the post season. The only exception to this rule is if a player suffers an injury, the club may replace that player with anyone in the organization (including minor leagues) as of August 31 with permission from the commissioner’s office.
Thus, September call-ups will typically have to be an injury replacement to play in the post-season.
Each team must establish a 25-man roster before each playoff series.
One major difference between the playoffs and the regular season is that teams get built-in off days for travel. The Division Series uses a 2-2-1 game format, with off days after each two-game set. Seven game series like the League Championship Series and the World Series use a 2-3-2 format, with off days after game two and game five.
The bottom line is that teams will typically use only four starters rather than the five used during the regular season. Often the fifth starter is either left off the playoff roster, or moved to the bullpen. Another major difference between the playoffs and regular season is that teams can use a shorter bullpen. Due to the built in off days, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost will be able to use his best relievers every game.
As a result, a playoff team can get away with as few as 10 pitchers total (four starters and six relievers). That means Yost can choose to add two more bench players, yielding room for specialty skill sets like base-running demon Terrance Gore. These kind of skill sets can prove critical in a close game.
Given these strategic considerations, which 25 players will give the Kansas City Royals their best chance to win in the post-season?