On Thursday, each Major League Baseball team will have the luxury of adding a few players to their active roster.
September call-ups aren’t what they used to be — teams are now required to have 28 players once the calendar hits Sept. 1 — instead of being able to go all the way up to 40 like the old days. Of those 28 players, only 14 can be pitchers. Buck Showalter has mixed feelings about the whole ordeal.
“I remember years ago when we eliminated Boston with a 37 or 38-man roster,” Showalter said, remembering his time in Baltimore. “I enjoyed winning the game, but I felt bad. Seriously! There was no way we could have competed with them with 25. But at 37, with six left-handed pitchers and six right-handed sidearmers, it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.”
With a new team under his wing, knowing that some extra help here and there would really go a long way, he’s aiming for a compromise.
“Now that I’m in this position, I wish it was 30 instead of 28,” he admitted. “I’m glad that we got it down. But, now that I’m here, I wish it was 30.”
Showalter also pointed out that if the rosters went to 30 players, or as high as 35, it’d be much easier to give young minor leaguers a traditional audition. Now, with so few to choose from, the club’s hands are tied. The limited choices, plus being in a pennant race, means whoever gets called up will be expected to contribute rather than just test their stuff out in the big leagues.
“It’s hard,” Showalter conceded. “I think these are guys that are going to come in and contribute. It’s almost like a competitive thing more than wanting to know. I do miss that part, the curiosity, just seeing them in the locker room and BP and this environment. That’s kind of lost.”
Asked directly about two players — Triple-A third baseman Mark Vientos and recently-demoted catcher Michael Perez — Showalter would only go as far as saying that both are “candidates” for a spot on the expanded roster.
He mixed in one final complaint. When rosters could go as high as 40 players, oftentimes teams would have a young minor leaguer come up and not play at all, or only get used as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. This allowed prospects to get a taste of ‘The Show,’ be in the clubhouse around seasoned veterans and generally learn the ropes without the pressure of having to perform.
While managing the Yankees in 1995, Showalter had a rookie by the name of Derek Jeter. After getting called up in September (he also played in 13 games earlier that year as a fill-in) Jeter only made one plate appearance, but he got a front-row seat as the Yankees competed for and eventually grabbed the first ever wild card berth. Those days are now firmly over.
“You’d like to bring guys up and not activate them, just carry them around like we did years ago,” Showalter said. “You’re trying not to take people away from teams that are in the [minor league] playoffs. Instructional league is right around the corner, you don’t want to take people out of that.”
PITCHING IN ON THE FARM
Tylor Megill and Drew Smith, both major parts of the team in April and May, should be back soon.
“[Megill] is scheduled to start in Binghamton [on Thursday] and Drew (Smith) is not far behind him, we haven’t set a date but he’s close behind him,” Showalter said.
As for David Peterson, his role is in flux once again. He is still on the active roster after making a spot start on Saturday, but with Showalter saying Carlos Carrasco could “potentially” return from his oblique injury this weekend, Peterson finds himself once again wondering when he will pitch next.
“We’ve got some things we’re considering, adjusting some things in the rotation that he’d figure into,” Showalter said of Peterson. “If we feel like, after some of the outings, a guy might benefit from an extra day, we’d be able to do that with David. I think there’s a couple guys, we’ll wait and see how they feel, whether we want to push them back.”
When pressed about who those couple of guys could be, Showalter mentioned Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker. How deGrom feels after his Wednesday night start against the Dodgers is “one of many things” the Mets will look at when planning their future rotation and Peterson usage.
GUILLOR-MAY BE BACK SOON
Luis Guillorme’s groin is healing well. Showalter was able to give a definitive target date for his return. The only thing Guillorme has left to do is prove that he can run without feeling pain.
“The plan for Guillorme is to play on Sunday,” Showalter said. “I talked to him today. Today was a big day. He ran the bases. He’s feeling the right things but he’s not quite there.”