Since there seems to be a lot of confusion about how the postseason rosters in the MLB are determined, here is a short description, including names of current Cardinals players to make it easier. MLB rule 40 actually covers this in detail, but still leaves a few things up for interpretation.
The Easy Part
To be playoff eligible, a player must be on either the active roster or on one of the disabled or non-voluntary lists (bereavement, military duty, suspended) on August 31.
For 2011, postseason eligible Cardinals players would include
Aug 31 active roster: Albert Pujols, Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot, Rafael Furcal, David Freese, Yadier Molina, Gerald Laird, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Corey Patterson, Lance Berkman and pitchers Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Jake Westbrook, Kyle McClellan, Arthur Rhodes, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, and Fernando Salas.
15 day DL: Nick Punto
60 day DL: Adam Wainwright, Eduardo Sanchez
That makes up the pool of 28 players from which manager Tony La Russa and general manager John Mozeliak can make up their 25 man playoff roster. The actual list of players is not set until the manager hands the lineup card to the umpire at the start of the first game. It can change up to that point, and knowing how much Tony La Russa likes to mess with his opponents, that could happen. Especially if the start of a series is delayed by rain. Give Tony La Russa another day to think about it, who knows what he might do.
The Cardinals have a few players (Matt Holliday, Rafael Furcal) who are injured and might not be available to play. If that is the case, Tony La Russa can replace them with any player in the Cardinals system, major or minor league, as long as they were in the organization on August 31 and finished the season somewhere in the Cardinals system. If the replacement player is not on the 40 man roster, they would have to be added before they are able to play in postseason.
Example: Matt Adams could be added as a substitute for Matt Holliday (no, there is no requirement that their first names match), and Ryan Jackson could be added for Rafael Furcal. Both would need to be added to the 40 man, meaning two players would have to be removed. This is purely hypothetical, neither substitution would make any sense.
If the injured player is activated for a subsequent playoff round, and was replaced by a minor leaguer (not originally on the 40 man roster), then a minor leaguer must be removed from the pool of playoff eligible players for that round. This is no different than a player being optioned back to the minors when another plater is activated from the disabled list. The same rules apply here, the player removed from eligibility does not need to be the one added as the replacement. So Matt Holliday could play in the NLCS and Tony La Russa could disqualify Ryan Jackson, continuing with the early hypothetical (and silly) example.
Once handed to the umpire, those 25 players on the lineup card are the roster for that round. There is one exception.
Injured During a Series
If a player becomes injured during a playoff round, they can be replaced, and the rules are the same as if they were unable to start the round. They can be replaced by any player in the major or minor league system that was on a roster on Aug 31 and finished somewhere in the organization. If the player is not on the 40 man roster, they need to be added. There is one additional condition, and again, this makes sense. If a player is replaced during a playoff series, they are not eligible to play in the next one. In other words, this works just like the disabled list in the regular season.
This process is repeated for the League Championship Series and World Series. There is no requirement that the lists be identical between series, and given the latter two are seven games instead of five, an extra pitcher or two might be a good idea.
When the replacement rule was introduced in 1986, there was a requirement that a disabled pitcher be replaced only with a pitcher, and a disabled position player only with a position player. That forced teams to go with the same number of pitchers they had on August 31. In 2007, this requirement was removed, so a team is free to make up their postseason roster from the complete pool of eligible players.
What of Lynn ?
What about Lance Lynn ? Isn’t he on the 60 day disabled list – why is he not eligible ? That is correct, he is currently on the 60 day disabled list. He was transferred to it on September 2, to make room on the 40 man roster for Shane Robinson. The effective date would go back to August 10, when he was originally placed on the 15 day disabled list. That triggers another interesting exception. Since he was placed on the disabled list after August 1, he must stay there for the full 60 days before he (or his spot) becomes eligible. That means he cannot be on a playoff roster until October 14. There’s one more restriction, and it also makes sense, when eligible, he can only be replaced by a player already on the 40 man roster. Think about it, you can’t activate Lynn *AND* also add another player to replace him.
I hope this helps clear things up.
And Adron ?
For those wanting to see Adron Chambers on the roster instead of Corey Patterson, you might get your wish. He could replace Adam Wainwright in the pool of eligible players, even if Matt Holliday is able to play. In that scenario, Patterson could be left off the NLDS roster for Chambers. But we all know that isn’t likely to happen – Patterson is the type of veteran that Tony La Russa loves to have on his bench.
[edit Oct 1] Adron Chambers has been placed on the NLDS active roster over Corey Patterson. Nick Punto was also added. Eduardo Sanchez and Kyle McClellan were inactive to make room for Punto and Chambers.
Then again, the Cardinals looked like a different team once Adron Chambers showed up. Maybe he is a good luck charm after all – like the ever present Carlos Santana necklace and our favorite fake twitter account, Torty Craig. Unlike crying, there is a lot of superstition in baseball.
One last thought. If the Cubs were in the playoffs, Carlos Zambano would not be eligible for postseason because he was placed on the disqualified list prior to August 31. Then again, he his postseason eligibility was pretty much disqualified when he was drafted by the Cubs back in 1997. Poking fun at the Cubs never gets old, does it.