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Royals potential post-season roster

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Who will be the 25 that lead us to a championship?

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The Royals' magic number is down to six with 16 games to go, making a post-season appearance a near-certainty for the Boys in Blue. It will be their second consecutive appearance for the first time since 1984-1985 and their first ever Central Division Title.

It will soon be time to start looking to October, at the 25-man roster the Royals will field for the post-season. Already the Royals are gearing up by sending Danny Duffy to the pen to work on relieving. Other roster decisions have to be made like who will play right-field? How many outfielders will they carry? Do they need to carry a reserve infielder that can play shortstop or can Ben Zobrist cover in a pinch? What relievers will they carry?

Anyone that was in the organization on August 31 is eligible to be on the post-season roster, including recent acquisition Jonny Gomes and late September call-ups like Miguel Almonte. Barring injury, here are the virtual locks to be on the roster:

Catchers (2): Drew Butera, Salvador Perez

Infielders (5): Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas, Ben Zobrist

Outfielders (3): Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon

Starting pitchers (4): Johnny Cueto, Kris Medlen, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez

Relief pitchers (6): Wade Davis, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales

That leaves five more spots.

The club will want some sort of reserve infielder. They could carry Omar Infante who, despite having one of the worst offensive seasons of this century, has come on lately and can help with his glove. He can come in late in games as a defensive replacement, and if Escobar gets hurt, Infante can play second with Zobrist moving to shortstop. The team might instead decide to carry a true reserve infielder like Christian Colon, although Colon has seen very little playing time in September.

The outfield situation will be interesting. Pinch-runner extraordinaire Terrance Gore seems a good bet to be on the roster, but beat writer Andy McCullough doubts Gore is on the roster. With the emergence of the speedy Paulo Orlando, who can do more with the bat, the Royals may find it unnecessary to carry a player limited only to pinch-running.

Alex Rios' spot on the roster was in doubt a few weeks ago, but he has hit .400/.413/.631 over his last 18 games, solidifying not only a roster spot, but the starting right-field job as well. Jonny Gomes is a good bet to serve as a bat off the bench, which could make it difficult to carry Paulo Orlando if Gore is on the roster as well.

The Royals have pretty much set their starting rotation for the playoffs, leaving the bullpen jobs up for grabs. The team carried seven relievers last year, and with the days off in October, eight arms is probably unnecessary. That means the last bullpen spot will likely come down to Luke Hochevar or Chris Young unless Jeremy Guthrie somehow impresses enough the last few weeks.. Hochevar has a better track record but has given up eight runs in 10.2 innings in the last month. Young has pitched well out of the pen with a 2.38 ERA, but has pitched very sparingly. With a potential first-round series having games in Houston or New York, it might make a lot more sense to carry a groundball pitcher like Hochevar over a flyball pitcher like Chris Young.

In my opinion, the last five spots go to Infante, Rios, Gore, Gomes, and Hochevar. The club trusts Omar's defense and not Christian Colon's glove making that an easy call. Orlando is a nice weapon but doesn't get on base like Gomes or have Gore's kind of speed. As a bench player, you can afford guys that only do one thing, but do that thing really, really well. Hochevar makes more sense than Young as you look at potential matchups.

What do you think? What does your post-season roster look like?