Announcers in recent games have taken to speculating about the number of pitchers the Braves will take to postseason. It is my understanding that this is fixed by the roster on Sept. 1, so the Braves will have 14 players and 11 pitchers. Given that, the players seem pretty well set:
The bench, beyond the platoon guys, is very weak. The loss of DeRosa hurts the team somewhat, but it probably won’t be a concern unless Furcal gets hurt, or unless they get to the World Series. (Bobby would likely have used Chipper as the DH and played DeRosa at third; now, the DH would probably be one of the platoon guys.) DeRosa is a pretty good pinch-hitter against lefthanded pitchers, but the Braves are pretty deep in that department. He’s a pretty good utility infielder, but Furcal and Giles don’t need to rest in postseason, nor do they need to be pinch-hit or pinch-run for. I would greatly prefer that the Braves had called up Ryan Langerhans instead of Wise, but they didn’t, and he’s not going to be on the postseason roster unless someone else gets hurt.
The pitching group is more complex, and I think we need a team effort to thrash it out. I think that the most likely group of eleven is:
Needless to say, this isn’t the group I would go with. I’ve never had much use for Gryboski anyway, and Ortiz has been awful for a month now. It will be particularly interesting, if Hampton is healthy, to see what the Braves do with the postseason rotation. Obviously, at least one of the starters, possibly two, will be in the bullpen. By all rights, that should be Ortiz, who has been the worst starter for the last several weeks. His season ERA is 4.19, which beats only Hampton’s, and with each looking at one more start they might yet switch places.
But Ortiz was the opening day starter, he’s the guy who’s supposed to be the ace, he’s the guy who makes the most money except for Hampton. And he’s a free agent who would no doubt be very upset to be removed from the rotation in postseason, which might cost him a couple of million dollars in the market this offseason. Will Bobby make the call to yank his least effective but most “proven” starter?
The Braves could do some other shifting in the pen. They could, for instance, dump Cruz — who only has the best stuff on the staff and has been generally effective — in favor of the rehabbing Horacio Ramirez, in an attempt to get another lefty. They’d be better off dumping Gryboski, of course, but tell that to the guy in the dugout. There’s every difference between facing the Giants — where you have to deal with that Bonds guy — and facing the Cubs or the Dodgers. If you have the Giants, you’d probably want to have an extra lefty for the late innings. Against the other possibles, it’s less of a concern.