Late Saturday evening after the Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals, Jordan Bastian posted on twitter that Trevor Bauer is the Cleveland Indians starter for its first playoff game this season.
Francona said Bauer will pitch Game 1 of ALDS. Kluber wanted to pitch Thursday, but manager "overruled him." Thinks this is best approach.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 1, 2016
With Kluber coming back from quadriceps issue, Francona felt Bauer was better situated to handle possible short-rest assignment for Game 4.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 1, 2016
Ideally, the Indians will not have to use any of their starters on short rest, and will have the series against the Boston Red Sox wrapped up in three games. This also scraps my favorite pet theory that the Indians will blow baseball tradition apart and use some of its relievers as openers. So it goes.
The key is that Francona wants to use his starters in a way that will maximize their effectiveness for the duration of the playoffs. Pitching Kluber during game four does increase the chance that he would aggravate or re-injure his quadriceps, and losing Kluber for any time during the postseason would be a potential disaster.
To be named the number one starter could serve as a crucible that finally melts the "quirky, weird, unorthodox" labels away from him and replaces them with "proven ace, team leader, ahead of his time". Alternatively, a couple of rough starts could rattle him, given his competitive nature and constant desire to be the best he can. Either way, the importance of Trevor Bauer to the Indians' dreams of a World Series title only grows.