DETROIT -- Though expanded September rosters have multiplied the number of arms available in most bullpens for the stretch run, the one Tigers pitcher most likely to see a difference from it hasn't been effected as much as was expected.
While the White Sox, for one, threw one lefty reliever after another at Prince Fielder in the late innings last week, the Detroit slugger is actually on pace for the same number of at-bats against lefties this month as he has been in most other months. He's gone 5-for-23 with seven walks and five strikeouts against lefties in September.
By contrast, Fielder went 9-for-39 with six walks and five strikeouts against southpaws in August.
For what it's worth, Fielder entered Saturday 9-for-40 with three home runs against right-handers in September.
Some of the differences depend on the opponent and left-handed starters, of course. Still, Fielder had eight at-bats against the White Sox in two games started by lefty Jose Quintana, plus three more at-bats in a Chris Sale start on Sept. 2.
More visibly, though, the White Sox used a trio of lefty relievers -- Donnie Veal, Leyson Septimo and Matt Thornton -- to try to hold down Fielder in late-inning situations. Veal, in particular, stands out, since he hasn't allowed a hit to a left-handed batter this season.
"Prince doesn't face a right-handed pitcher from the fifth inning on," manager Jim Leyland said Saturday.
Leyland has been a vocal critic of expanded September rosters and their impact on games during playoff races. He supports the idea of a rule requiring teams in September to designate a certain number of "active" players.