After playing the last month with 35 players on the active roster, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has to narrow it down to 25 for Friday's game with the Cardinals. Since it will be a one-game elimination setting at Turner Field, Gonzalez does not have to worry about making sure he has enough starting pitchers for a normal playoff series. Instead, he can beef up his bullpen and bench.
If the Braves advance, they will be able to create a new 25-man roster for their series with the Nationals.
As for the players who I believe are guaranteed a spot:
Catcher: Brian McCann, David Ross
1B: Freddie Freeman
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Chipper Jones
SS: Andrelton Simmons
OF: Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, Jason Heyward, Reed Johnson
SP: Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson
RP: Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty
That's a total of 15 players, leaving 10 up for debate.
Jose Constanza and Tyler Pastornicky are likely fits given their versatility and speed off the bench. Jeff Baker also seems likely given he is right handed and has experience pinch hitting. In the bullpen, Luis Avilan, Chad Durbin and Cristhian Martinez seem like solid bets as well.
This leaves four spots. I'd like to see catcher J.C. Boscan make the roster. With three catchers on the roster, David Ross is free to pinch hit, making him the best right-handed option off the bench. It also allows Gonzalez to pinch-run for McCann if he's on base in a crucial situation.
It seemed likely that just one of Cory Gearrin and Peter Moylan would make the roster since they are essentially the same pitcher, but I'd put both in the bullpen. The Cardinals are a right-handed heavy team, and the sidearm motion from Gearrin and Moylan can give righties fits. They are also solid bets when a ground ball is needed for a double play.
The 25th spot is between Eric Hinske and Lyle Overbay. Neither player has done much of anything as a left-handed pinch hitter in 2012. Neither player can play a position other than first base, and Hinske probably can't even do that anymore. It's essentially a toss up at this point. We'll give the nod to Hinske given his history with Atlanta over the years.
First pitch from Turner Field is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. ET from Turner Field on Friday, Oct. 5.