CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – With just three plate appearances since August 8th, Michael Brantley will be on the Cleveland Indians’ ALDS roster.
Manager Terry Francona had foretold of many difficult decisions to be made with the playoff roster, but it never seemed Brantley’s inclusion was one of them. If the All-Star was healthy enough to play, he would be on the team.
“To start it will be in a pinch-hitting role,” Francona said of the 30-year old. “Hopefully at some point that can start to expand.”
Brantley missed 50 games with a sprained ankle suffered against the Rockies on August 8th.
In the end, the only real surprises on Francona’s initial ALDS roster was the exclusion of third baseman Yandy Diaz, which was a mild surprise at most. In Diaz’s stead, defensive specialists Giovanny Urshela and Erik Gonzalez were listed.
The need for defense was something heavily accounted for among those who made the cut, including Urshela and Gonzalez. Rookie Greg Allen was also included with the potential to spell Jason Kipnis in center field or pinch run.
“We’ll have Urshela and Gonzalez, and that’s where Brantley comes into play,” Francona said. “His ability to hit for one of those guys, we view it kind of as a weapon. So we’ll have someone over there who’s really good defensively. If we feel the need to hit, we can. And if we ever have to, we can actually bring Kip in to play second and move (Jose) Ramirez to third. So, you have the ability to pinch-hit twice if you want.”
In order to carry the likes of Allen, Gonzalez and Brantley, cuts were made in the bullpen. All six regular starting pitchers are on the roster with Danny Salazar joining Mike Clevinger in the bullpen. Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer will move to the bullpen after his start, and potential Game 4 starter Josh Tomlin will be available in the ‘pen prior to his start, with Salazar and Clevinger as backup plans.
Because of the ability to go multiple innings with all of the above, one-inning relievers like Nick Goody, Dan Otero and Zack McAllister were all omitted.
Leaving a trio behind that combined for a 2.75 ERA, 176 K and just 50 walks over 176.2 innings was the most difficult decision for Francona.
“We just brought in all three of those guys, Goody, Otero and McAllister together. Those are the three I was talking about,” he said. “They all three have pitched terrific this year. It’s nothing they did or didn’t do. We just have to plan for the things I’ve been talking about. And for the first series, they’re not going to be on and that was not a fun message to deliver, because all three have been outstanding and good teammates and done their job. That’s one of the tougher things about this.”
The preliminary roster is as follows:
Pitchers: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar, Mike Clevinger, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Tyler Olson, Joe Smith
Catchers: Roberto Perez, Yan Gomes
Infield: Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, Giovanny Urshela, Erik Gonzalez, Francisco Lindor
Outfield: Jay Bruce, Austin Jackson, Jason Kipnis, Greg Allen, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley