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Week in Transactions: Indians call up Adam Plutko

In which the biggest transaction of the week is not a transaction at all

College World Series - UCLA v Mississippi State Game One
Adam Plutko, while pitching with UCLA
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Latest 40-man Roster

Embiggened Version
Google Docs Version
Sept 19 2016

So I thought this week would be rather quiet, with all the minor-league seasons over with and virtually everyone on the 40-man roster already called up to Cleveland.

Then came the Carrasco injury. Now the Indians not only have to figure out how they’ll manage to finish the season, but also how they’ll deal with the postseason if they make it. Carrasco’s injury wouldn’t have been such a big deal had Danny Salazar been healthy, but now that both are out the Indians are having to think of Plan Cs and Ds.

And that includes using only three starting pitchers throughout the playoffs, which you can get away with in the Division Series fairly easily, but in a seven-game series, it’s much harder to pull off. And that third spot would essentially be a tandem start, with both Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger perhaps both pitching on that day. In the ALDS, only one start on short rest would be needed (Game 1 starter starting Game 4), but if the Indians make it to the ALCS, things get a lot trickier, especially if they would have need to win the ALDS in five games.

My opinion on this is: start a pitcher on three-days’ rest if it’s a must-win, but otherwise go with the best available pitcher on full rest. So in the theoretical ALDS situation, the Indians should go with Kluber in Game 4 if down 2-1, but if up 2-1, they should go with either Tomlin or Clevinger. That way if you need to play a Game 5, you’ll have Kluber on full rest, and if you win Game 4, you’ll have Kluber available to pitch Game 1 in the ALCS.

So what does this all mean when it comes time to submit the postseason 25-man roster? I think you’ll see Terry Francona bring on as many pitchers as he realistically can. That would mean (if your bench is Guyer/Crisp/Martinez/Gimenez), there would be eight relievers on the playoff roster. That leaves two spots in the bullpen that aren’t obviously locks (Miller/Allen/Shaw/Otero/Manship/McAllister); I think Perci Garner or Shawn Armstrong would fill one spot, with another going to someone who can pitch multiple innings, like Cody Anderson or perhaps even Adam Plutko, who is going to officially join the club today. Francona could also go with Kyle Crockett if the ALDS opponent has some key players who are weak against left-handed pitching.

Major-League Transactions

September 20

Purchased the Contract of RHP Adam Plutko from Columbus (AAA)

Designated _____________ for Assignment (or transferred Carlos Carrasco to 60-day Disabled List)

The Indians are going to call up Plutko, who hasn’t pitched in a game since August 31. He’ll probably throw a simulated game today, then would be available for long relief or perhaps a spot start this weekend. Plutko was going to be added to the 40-man roster this winter anyway, so it doesn’t mess up any long-term roster planning, but the Indians will need to make room for him. I think the Indians will make room for Plutko by placing Carlos Carrasco on the 60-day Disabled List, as he is out for the remainder of the regular season and the postseason. Plutko would not be currently eligible for the postseason, but could be used a replacement for Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes or Carrasco.

If the Indians designate a player for assignment in order to make room for Plutko, TJ House, Adam Moore, and Austin Adams would be the obvious choices. Moore actually has a use right now (allowing the Indians to pinch-hit for both Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez in the same game), so I’d lean more towards House or Adams.

[edit: (4:15 PM) The Indians have designated TJ House for assignment in order to make room for Plutko]