The Cleveland Indians will start designated hitter Carlos Santana in left field in the DH-less Wrigley Field.
As expected, Terry Francona’s October of breaking the unwritten rules of roster management continues, although this one comes with a bit less statistical backing than letting Andrew Miller throw 40 pitches every night.
Francona clearly does not want to lose the bat of Santana, which has been one of the best on the Indians over the last several seasons, even while he struggled to find a place he truly belonged on the field. Maybe left field has been his secret calling all along? Probably not, but maybe?
Santana is 5-for-35 this postseason; 0-for-6 against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Over the last three seasons, Santana leads all Indians batters in home runs, and it’s not even close. He has 80 with the next closest being Yan Gomes at 42 and Jason Kipnis trailing at 38. Santana also has the third-highest wRC+ in that span (.352) behind only Michael Brantley (.374) and the flukey Tyler Naquin (.374).
This will not be Santana’s first time playing in left field, but it will be his first start at the position. The last time he played in the outfield during a regulation game was four innings in 2012 in a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Starting your DH in left field may seem weird, or even like desperation, but the drop-off between Santana and the other potential starter in LF, Coco Crisp, probably is not huge. At the very least, if Santana can get to enough fly balls, I would expect him to make better throws than Crisp’s hilariously-weak arm can produce.
This is not something that Tito doing over a full season — there’s a decent chance Santana will only see two or three balls hit his way, and maybe only one of those will present a real challenge. Seeing as this is the World Series, however, if he makes even the slightest mistake it’ll be remembered forever.
Cleveland Indians Game 3 lineup
Chicago Cubs Game 3 lineup
Kyle Schwarber may not be starting tonight, but he will still probably be the most talked-about player. Awesome.