On Friday afternoon, Jim Leyland sounded positive about Delmon Young’s status for the ALCS. On Saturday, the Tigers announced that Young was left off the ALCS roster in favor of infielder Danny Worth. What gives?
It’s simple, really, and it likely has as much to do with MLB’s rules regarding playoff rosters as Young’s actual recovery from the strained oblique he suffered in Thursday’s Game 5 clincher against the Yankees.
Injury uncertainties on a postseason roster carry a much bigger risk than they would in the regular season. Though a team can replace an injured player in the middle of a series, that player then has to miss the next round. So if Young had started the series and then had to be removed, he wouldn’t have been eligible for the World Series.
The way oblique injuries linger, there’s no way to know if Young will be ready for the World Series, either. But this way, the Tigers at least keep their options open.
The Tigers apparently decided Young needed at least one game off, but there’s nothing stopping him from adding him back onto the roster later in the series if he’s deemed ready.
If they do so, it’d likely come at the expense of Worth. Sure, it’d make Worth ineligible to play in the World Series, but we’re talking about a guy who barely had as many at-bats (39) as he did games played (30) for the Tigers this year. No huge loss — he was never expected to be needed in the first place. So until the Tigers actually announce that Young’s status took a turn for the worse and he’s unlikely to play, don’t read too much into his current status on the roster.