CHICAGO -- Manager Jim Leyland is known for playing lefty-against-righty matchups, and vice versa, to try to leverage a situation, sometimes over a hitter on a hot streak or cold spell. For the first five months, it was usually a trademark of his bench usage and lineups.
At this point, he admitted, it's just about impossible. With expanded rosters in September -- notably, bigger bullpens -- teams have too many relievers available. The way White Sox manager Robin Ventura has used his bullpen over the last four meetings between the two clubs has been an excellent example.
When Leyland used Andy Dirks to bunt two runners over in the seventh inning of a 3-2 game on Tuesday, he knew that by opening first base, he was setting up the White Sox to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera and load the bases, then bring in Donnie Veal to face Prince Fielder. Veal has yet to allow a base hit to a left-handed hitter in the big leagues this year, and he didn't on Tuesday, getting Fielder to line out before Brett Myers retired Delmon Young to end the threat.
The White Sox used six relievers on Tuesday, four of them for one out apiece after Jake Peavy left with two outs in the sixth. They used three relievers for the final four outs on Monday, and seven on Sept. 1 at Comerica Park.
"One of the biggest things about September baseball," Leyland said, "is that a left-handed hitter had better be able to get a hit off a left-handed pitcher, and a right-handed hitter off a right-handed pitcher."
Leyland is on record as supporting a change to expanded September rosters that would have teams designate a certain number of available players each night. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on Wednesday that such restrictions have been discussed for more than a decade.
"I think a lot of people share that feeling," Dombrowski said. "For whatever reason, it's never been passed, and I'm not privy to those final conversations. I think a lot of it had to deal with, you have to negotiate, [and] you have to be in a position where the Players Association has to favor it."