Pro vs. Con: Playoff Roster Resets

Should MLB allow Wild Card teams to reset their rosters after the one-game playoff?
10/04/2012 2:29 PM ET
By Staff

Buck Showalter has some roster flexibility for the Wild Card Playoff, but is that a good thing?(AP)


The first-ever Wild Card Playoffs will be played Friday, and the rosters for Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis and Texas may look a little different than what fans are used to. That’s because with the advent of the new playoff round, MLB has extended its policy on roster re-setting – meaning that the Wild Card foursome will be able to set any roster they wish for the virtual play-in game, and then will be able to re-set it prior to the beginning of their Division Series.

Throughout the media, that idea has garnered a lot of headlines of late, with both negative and positive reactions. Some feel that teams should be able to use their entire 40-man roster as they would in September or a one-game divisional playoff, some feel that teams should have to use the same roster for both the Wild Card and Division Series rounds, and others, like MLB special assistant and recent CenterStage guest Tony LaRussa, are of the mindset that it doesn’t matter as long as the controversy gets people talking.

There are certainly pros and cons to each argument, and we have laid out a few of each below for your consideration:

Pros to roster resets:

-ROSTER TAILORING: Whether it’s a one-game, five-game, or seven-game series, teams should have the chance to tailor their rosters to best match their postseason opponents. The Yankees, for example, can wait to see who wins Friday’s game before setting their ALDS roster; why should Baltimore or Texas have to plan for two teams?

-INJURY PROTECTION: If someone is removed from a postseason roster during a series due to injury, he must sit out the remainder of that series plus the next one. So, then, if the Wild Card Playoff counted as part of the Division Series for roster purposes and someone suffered a “minor” injury during that game, it wouldn’t truly be fair to have to bench him for five games or lose him for the Division and League Championship Series entirely, would it?

-MORE OPPORTUNITY: In a “regular” playoff series, there’s little to no chance teams would carry a third catcher, a second (or third or fourth) lefty specialist in the bullpen, or even a “one-dimensional” player (like, say, Brett Gardner if he were still unable to hit and could only run/play defense) on the active roster. But, in a one-game playoff, those guys might get an opportunity to actively experience October baseball, thanks of a “loophole” covered in the first con below.

Cons to roster resets:

-ROSTER SHUFFLE: The above tailoring and opportunity thoughts aside, it is entirely possible that because you only need one starter (and maybe a second as an emergency backup) for the Wild Card Playoff, there will be two, three, or even four “extra” roster spots available for bullpen arms or bench players. The next three rounds won’t see similar roster configurations, so why should the first one?

-EASIER DECISIONS: Baltimore and Texas, for example, don’t have to set their rosters for the ALDS until Saturday, but because they know they’ll play the inactive Yankees and likely face a Sabathia-Kuroda-Pettitte rotation, they could have an idea of their ALDS 25 already. But what if something catastrophic happens to a major Orioles or Rangers contributor during the Wild Card Playoff, or game factors/decisions (like, perhaps, pitching use in an 18-inning game) completely change how Joe Girardi might want to make up his roster? It’s already hard enough for the Yankees to prepare because they don’t know where they’re playing, but they won’t even know who on those teams they might be facing until late Friday night, either.

-OPERATOR ERROR: Baseball is already a game where managers get second-guessed and “what if?” is a popular question. But what happens if a manager exploits the roster shuffle loophole and it backfires badly? That might be a second-guessing that could cost him, or someone else, their livelihood.

So, what do you think: should teams be allowed to re-set their rosters after the Wild Card Playoff? Let us know by voting in the attached poll and leaving your comments below! comments