The Major League Baseball regular season ends on Wednesday. There won’t be much drama as far as the playoff field’s complexion is concerned. All 12 teams that will qualify for the tournament have already won their places and their seed spots. However, that doesn’t mean playoff teams don’t have much to think about before the official start of the postseason on Friday.
Rather, some teams will have to weigh tough decisions about their postseason rosters. Some of these questions are related to health issues, while others are related to performance related issues. In any case, CBS Sports has highlighted five notable players whose status on their club’s original playoff roster remains in question ahead of Game 162. (Note that the players are listed alphabetically.)
1. Francisco Alvarez, C/DH, New York Mets
Alvarez only made his major league debut last weekend, but he’s eligible for the postseason and the Mets may see him as a necessary addition to their playoff roster. This is partly due to the fact that Alvarez is a talented young catcher with the ability to change the rules of the game; this is partly due to the fact that the Mets lack capable right-handed bats. The Mets are expected to be without starting outfielder Starling Marthe for at least the Wild Card series due to a broken toe. Adding a deadline Darin Roof is also injured and has been ineffective since arriving in the city. That makes Alvarez arguably the best candidate to be the Mets’ designated hitter (or pinch-hitting option) when they face the southpaw.
2. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, New York Yankees
The Yankees reportedly considered firing Chapman just a week and a half ago, but a slew of new and/or lingering bullpen injuries may leave them no choice but to bring him into the lineup in October. Namely, Ron Marinaccio, Wendy Peralta, Zach Britton and Clay Holmes are currently out of New York, severely reducing their bullpen opportunities ahead of the ALDS. Although Chapman will never resemble his former dominant self again, he is healthy and has had some successful performances lately. It might be good enough.
3. Spencer Strider, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Strider, one of baseball’s top-scoring rookies this season, has recently retired from the game with an oblique injury. General manager Alex Anthopoulos told media on Tuesday that Strider could still play for the Braves in the NLDS. (Second baseman Ozzy Albis, on the other hand, is considered a loser.) So Strider was probably as happy as anyone else that the Braves secured a goodbye in the first round, since extra days off could be of value to his recovery and to his availability. NLDS kicks off next Tuesday (October 11).
4. Noah Sindergaard, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies, who played the Cardinals in a best-of-three Wild Card series this weekend, will almost certainly make the playoffs with three pitchers: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez. You can count on another starter, Bailey Falter, to be part of their Wild Card bullpen series; what about Sindergaard? Late last September, the Phillies forced him onto the field in relief, hoping to keep him in the role for a few innings for the rest of the season. Sindergaard returned to the rotation last week due to the Phillies doubleheading, but the Phillies could still go back to their original pre-postseason plans. Remember, they shouldn’t see it as an option; simply better than the likes of Chris Devensky or Nick Nelson among other medium relief types.
5. Blake Trains, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Trainen did not compete for a month due to shoulder pain. He is expected to face the forwards on Wednesday and remains a chance to make the Dodgers’ NLDS roster. according to what manager Dave Roberts told Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. (Dustin May is also trying to regain good health, though Roberts has said he’s not a lock even if he’s fit.) Trainen has missed most of the season with hand problems, but he would be a welcome addition to the Dodgers’ bullpen back.