OAKLAND -- While the Tigers finish up their road trip Tuesday and Wednesday in Kansas City, team officials will be meeting with manager Jim Leyland and the coaching staff to discuss, among other things, the postseason roster. Among the topics that are likely to come up is Ryan Perry, who could play a critical role in the Tigers bullpen.
Without Perry, the Tigers would not have survived Al Alburquerque's concussion DL stint as well as they did. When Perry is on his game, he's a highly valued seventh-inning arm capable of strikeouts and groundouts. When he's a little off, he can have struggles like he did Saturday, when a two-out, none-on entrance turned into two insurance runs that ended up being the difference in the game against the A's.
Leyland sounded Sunday like he wasn't making much of Saturday's outing, coming off a division-clincher the previous night. Take away that performance, and Perry had held opponents to two runs on nine hits over 9 2/3 innings since his return from Triple-A Toledo in mid-August.
Alburquerque's health could play a big role in Perry's potential postseason usage. Even if Alburquerque pitches in the Kansas City series as planned, that leaves him about a week to get his arm back in midseason form. Alburquerque clearly plays an important role if he's healthy, but he's valuable enough that Perry could be insurance.
Usage might have been one issue that played into Perry's rough outing Saturday. It was just his fifth appearance since Sept. 1, and at 19 pitches, it was nearly twice as long as any of those previous four outings. He threw 24 pitches over his previous four appearances combined.
Leyland has not talked much about the decisions facing the Tigers in choosing a postseason bullpen. He met with pitching coach Jeff Jones on Sunday morning to try to map out their rotation plans, but he won't discuss a lot with the media this week for fear of tipping off the throng of advance scouts following the team.
Leyland made no secret, though, they have decisions to make.
"We're sniffing around," Leyland said.