Big League Stew

Play-in teams won’t need to carry more than one starting pitcher on their roster

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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(AP)

We mentioned on Monday that Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez could have reason to get creative with his pitching staff if and when the Braves reach the National League's play-in game on Oct. 5.

But under this year's rules for both play-in games, Gonzalez (presumably) and the three other managers won't need an excuse to show they're earning their paycheck. ESPN's Buster Olney confirms that each of the four teams will be able to set a 25-man roster specifically for that game and then select a different 25-man roster if they win and make the next round of the postseason.

Translation: Teams won't need to carry starting pitchers who don't have a chance of throwing that day, opening an opportunity to load the roster with more pinch runners, pinch hitters and relief pitchers.

Writes Olney:

If Atlanta decides to start Kris Medlen in the wild-card game, there won't necessarily be any reason to carry Mike Minor, Paul Maholm and Tommy Hanson. Rather, the Braves could round out their roster with specialists. They could carry a third catcher, for example, whose presence would allow Fredi Gonzalez to aggressively pinch-run for Brian McCann or David Ross, and extra pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and relievers. You might see the wild-card teams carry rosters of 11 pitchers and 14 position players -- but with 10 relievers available, allowing the managers to focus on matchups batter after batter down the stretch.

Olney acknowledges there's a chance this loophole only exists because of the hasty way Major League Baseball adopted the second wild card for 2012 and that changes will be made for future years. We can only hope that's the case because the play-in teams should have to win the game with something resembling a real roster.

Now, could there be some people out there that want to see the managers emptying all their guns in a do-or-die game? Sure, but here's betting they switch over to our sides once the pitching changes in these play-in games start to be described as "La Russian."

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