The Indians have announced their playoff roster.
For those who aren’t up on the rules surrounding playoff rosters, here’s the basic guidelines:
- In order to be on the roster, a player must have been on the team’s 40-man roster (or the disabled list) as of August 31 unless he is replacing an injured player. But a injury replacement must have been in the organization as of August 31. Adam Plutko and Adam Moore (who were not on the 40-man on August 31) could have made the roster as replacements for either Carlos Carrasco or Michael Brantley, who are the two players on the 60-day Disabled List.
- A player who has been suspended for PED use during the season cannot play in the playoffs. So no Abraham Almonte for the ALDS (or ALCS or World Series if the Indians make it that far).
- There is a limit of 25 players, just as there is from April-August. There’s no positional restrictions, so if Terry Francona wanted to he could go with 9 position players and 16 pitchers.
- A player who is injured can be replaced during a series with an eligible player. However, that injured player cannot return for the remainder of that series or the following one. So if (Jobu forbid) an Indians player gets hurt in Game 1 and is replaced, he can’t return until the World Series should the Indians make it that far.
- Teams have an opportunity to change their rosters between series without penalty. So should the Indians make it to the ALCS, they can swap players as needed (as long as the players added are eligible).
So with that out of the way, a few thoughts on the makeup of the roster.
- Three catchers. This really only came up as a possibility in the last week of the season, when the Indians activated Yan Gomes. Before Gomes was hit by a pitch in his final rehab appearance, the thought was that he’d return to the club, get significant playing time, and if deemed ready, would replace Chris Gimenez on the playoff roster. But the hand injury stopped that, and until the end of September we assumed that just Perez and Gimenez would be on the roster. Then came Gomes’ return for the last series of the year, which included a home run on the last day of the season (which turned out to be crucial in the Indians getting HFA against the Red Sox).
So how is Francona going to divvy up playing time between the three catchers. I think Perez will get the majority of innings, as he’s been the better hitter and defender in September. Gomes would be the defensive replacement if Perez is pinch-hit for, with Gimenez being the emergency option if both Perez and Gomes are pinch-hit/pinch-run for in a game.
- Anderw Miller is the only left-handed reliever. It looks like the Indians chose Cody Anderson over Kyle Crockett, probably because of the uncertainly of the starting staff. Although right now both Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber would be slated to start twice should the series go five games, the Indians are banking on needing length rather than a specific matchup advantage. Should Crockett have made the roster, he would have been called upon to pitch to one or perhaps two hitters in his appearance. And I should have seen this coming, as Crockett wasn’t used at all in the final week of the season. Meanwhile Anderson pitched an inning last Wednesday, while Mike Clevinger was used in a high-leverage situation in Saturday’s game. I think Francona is thinking of using Clevinger more as middle relief, at least in the ALDS, with Anderson then being more a mopup man in case one of the games gets out of hand.
This means the Indians won’t be as flexible in mid-inning matchup situations, for instance against David Ortiz in the sixth inning. But given that Crockett hasn’t exactly been a consistent option, I understand why they left him off the roster. None of the key relievers (Otero/Shaw/Miller/Allen) have a real pronounced platoon split, or at least one that would make Crockett the lesser of two evils.
- The Bench. Because there are just three non-catchers on the bench, that does limit late-inning substitutions somewhat. Michael Martinez did make some appearances in the outfield late in the season, which tells me Francona is preparing for the possibility of Martinez having to play there in a late-game situation. While technically Martinez is on the roster as a backup infielder, in practice there would be no reason (barring injury) why he’d play second, shortstop or third base. But there is a possibility that he’d be needed in the outfield if there’s a bunch of late inning pinch-hitting/pinch-running.