The Tigers find themselves in a position where roster moves may have playoff implications. MLB Playoff roster eligibility rules seem to be very convoluted at first blush. It turns out they are only partially convoluted, it just seems worse because as near as I can tell the rules aren’t really made available to the public. Have no fear though, we’ll get through it.
There are a couple magical end of month cut-off dates in Major League Baseball. The most well known one is the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. This deadline has no impact on playoff roster eligibility so you can put it out of your mind. The other deadline is the August 31st deadline. This is the one that counts.
To be eligible for a team’s playoff roster a player must be on either a)the 25 man active roster, b)the disabled list, c)the bereavement list, d)the suspended list as of August 31st at midnight.
In the case of the Tigers, assuming they don’t make additional moves prior to that deadline they would have 14 position players and 11 pitchers representing the 25 man roster. They would also have Matt Treanor, Joel Zumaya, Alfredo Figaro, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman, and Dontrelle Willis as eligible players meaning they would have 31 players at their disposal. If they were say concerned about Brandon Inge’s knee it may behoove them to have Inge on the DL as of the deadline so that both Inge and his replacement on the roster are both explicitly eligible. But this isn’t completely necessary…
If an eligible player is injured and unable to play a club can call up any player in the organization regardless of their roster status* provided that the replacement player plays the same position (position player for position player and pitcher for pitcher), the replacement player was in the organization as of the August 31st deadline and they finished the season in the organization, and they receive approval from the commissioner.
*The player would need to be added to the 40 man roster if they weren’t on it before they could be activated. They just wouldn’t have needed to be on the 40 man roster by any other deadlines.
So those are the rules around eligibility. But what actually happens when someone gets injured? The playoff roster is set each round when the lineup card is delivered to home plate. If the first game of the series is postponed, teams can reconfigure their roster as long as the series hasn’t started.
If a player is injured, they can be replaced during the series using the rules stated above. If the player is replaced they cannot come back in the current round, nor can they play in the following round.