First look at NLDS roster choices
My position player locks: Ryan Hanigan, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Xavier Paul, Dioner Navarro.
My pitching staff locks: Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Sam LeCure, Jose Arredondo
By my count, that’s 21 locks. That leaves four spots.
On the bubble:
RHP Mike Leake — Leake told me today he knew he didn’t deserve to be one of the four starters in the NLDS. But he’s hoping to make the cut as a reliever, and can even pinch-hit or pinch-run. One issue is he wasn’t very good in his previous five appearances out of the bullpen in 2010-11.
C Devin Mesoraco — There are merits to the idea that carrying three catchers would free up Navarro to pinch-hit. But Mesoraco’s game log is an indication that he might not make the NLDS roster. He’s had exactly three at-bats over two games since his recall and nothing since Sept. 10. If he was going to make it, you’d think he would get some innings and at-bats to stay sharp.
INF Wilson Valdez — I don’t think Valdez will be left off of the roster, despite his .197 average. The club values his defense and that he can be viewed as a true shortstop behind Cozart.
INF Miguel Cairo — Being a versatile player helps his cause, as does his veteran presence. Cairo is batting .313 (5-for-16) in his last seven games but has a .179 average for the season. He’s never really gotten going at the plate.
INF Henry Rodriguez — A switch-hitter who has a bat the organization likes. But it might be a lot to ask of a rookie to take on a pinch-hitting role in the postseason.
SS Didi Gregorius — There is no doubt that Gregorius can pick it defensively. But if the Reds carry Cozart and Valdez, I don’t see Gregorius making it too.
RHP Alfredo Simon — After a tough couple of outings in April, Simon has been a mostly dependable and sometimes exceptional long reliever. The question is how much is a long man needed in a short playoff series, especially if Leake makes the roster.
RHP Logan Ondrusek — After struggling in August, Ondrusek was sent down and has been mostly decent since coming back up.
RHP J.J. Hoover — Having a nice rookie year, Hoover has mostly impressed over his two call-ups. He hasn’t allowed a run in eight of his last nine appearances since his Aug. 23 recall. The one time he didn’t look good was Sept. 19 at Chicago when he walked three, including one with the bases loaded.
LHP Tony Cingrani — There is no chance Cingrani will get a start in the regular season or postseason, but his college bullpen experience and his being left-handed make him an intriguing option. Not counting Chapman, the Reds only have Marshall as a lefty set up guy.
*I can envision a scenario where the Reds carry 10 or 11 pitchers for the NLDS, especially since it’s a best-of-five series.. If it’s 10, that would allow for 15 position players. In 2010, they carried 11 pitchers to the matchup with the Phillies.
*One other note: Teams can reset their rosters in advance of each round of the postseason. So anyone not carried in the NLDS can still be around the team and workout until they’re needed. Teams can also replace an injured player in the midst of a series if need be.