Last night's game
Josh Tomlin had his first clunker of a start, but thanks to the offense and the bullpen, it didn't matter. The Indians teed off on Kris Medlen and the front end of the Royals bullpen. The key to beating the Royals is to get to their starting pitcher before the sixth inning or so, and the Indians did it. Tomlin faced the usual Royals lineup, not the Spring Training nine that Carrasco faced on Friday, and missed on pitches within the strike zone. His aggressive pitching style is a high-risk/high-reward style, and works only when he's hitting his spots, and last night he wasn't hitting them.
The headline is referring to the amount of side work that Bauer is doing. The reason for the admonishment is that there's a decent possibility that he'll need to start a game this last week of the season. Corey Kluber looked like he's still struggling with the hamstring, and one losing streak will eliminate the Indians from contention.
Speaking of hamstrings...
Add another player to the list of the walking wounded. No word yet on whether the cramp will hold Chisenhall out of the lineup today. Michael Brantley is probably going to out of the lineup again, and Indians are actually short on left-handed hitters for the first time in recent memory.
This week is when the micro (the individual game) meets the macro (the 162-game season). The Indians have 8, possibly 9 games left, and need to catch three teams to play past Monday, October 5. They don't need any help with the Twins, who the Indians play starting on Monday, but trail both the Angels and Astros by two games in the loss column. In other words, for the Indians to play the makeup game on Monday:
Cleveland 8-0 (eliminating Minnesota in the process)
Los Angeles 6-2 (3 Oakland, 4 @ Texas)
Houston 5-2 (3 @ Seattle, 3 @ Arizona)
If that happens (or if the Indians go 7-1, the Angels go 5-3, and the Astros go 4-3, etc.), then the Indians would be a half-game behind the Angels and Astros after next Sunday, and would play the makeup game against the Tigers. If they win that game, then there's a three-team playoff to determine the second Wild Card. Simple, right? There could of course also be a two-way tie instead.
It would be worthwhile for the Rangers to lose a game or two against the Tigers so that the season-ending series against the Angels means something to them.
Latest 40-man Roster
Let's take a moment to ponder that Francisco Lindor could end up leading the team in WAR despite playing just in fewer than 100 games. And it's not like the rest of the teams has been horrible, either. In most years Lindor would be a unanimous AL Rooke of the Year, but Carlos Correa has been just as good, and he's playing for a (slightly) better team.
I'd also like to highlight the pitching staff, which has been amazing from top to bottom. Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber have lived up to expectations, but Jeff Manship has been by some measures the best reliever in the game in the second half of the season. I could continue to go down the list, but otherwise this would be the Sunday afternoon News and Notes.
With the addition of Aguilar, Moore, and Lee, the Indians now have 34 players on their active roster.