I think the at-bats missed in March are still hurting Jason Kipnis, who is really struggling at the plate. Which makes the way Michael Brantley is swinging the bat so incredible, given how much time he missed (though to be fair, Brantley was hitting every day, whether in BP or in games, through Spring Training.
Yan Gomes, who started the season in a dreadful slump, has been one the club’s best hitters over the past couple weeks (.333/.440/.429), hitting for average as well as taking his walks. That’s translated into more playing time for him, and less for Roberto Perez.
Carlos Carrasco has had a Cy Young-type start, but the rest of the rotation hasn’t pulled its weight. Both Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin were major liabilities in April, and with Corey Kluber missing one start, the rotation becomes even more of a question mark. But the bullpen has picked up the slack, making sure that any leads the Indians do have heading into the middle innings stays a lead.
May 2, 2017
Placed OF Austin Jackson on the 10-day Disabled List (hyperextended left toe)
Recalled RHP Shawn Armstrong from Columbus (AAA)
May 3, 2017
Placed RHP Corey Kluber on the 10-day Disabled List (lower back strain)
Recalled RHP Joseph Colon from Columbus (AAA)
(Jackson is eligible to come off the DL on May 12th, while Corey Kluber could return on the 13th.)
Last week there was nobody on the 10-day Disabled List, but of course that couldn’t last. First, Austin Jackson injured his toe in Monday’s game, then Corey Kluber’s back acted up during Tuesday’s game. The Indians elected to call up relievers in both cases to serve a short-term purposes because the bullpen had been used extensively on Monday and Tuesday. So for now the Indians have a nine-man bullpen, but that should work itself back down to eight, with Mike Clevinger being called up, the next time Kluber’s spot comes up.
So, assuming nobody is skipped, here’s how I think the rotation will work out:
May 5th (Fri) - Danny Salazar
May 6th (Sat) - Josh Tomlin
May 7th (Sun) - Trevor Bauer
May 8th (Mon) - Mike Clevinger
May 9th (Tue) - Carlos Carrasco
May 10th (Wed) - Danny Salazar - Kluber update*
Clevinger could pitch on Sunday instead, as he’d be on his normal rest, and with an off day following the Toronto series (May 8-10), the Indians could even skip Bauer’s spot if they feel it necessary.
*As for Kluber’s return, that will depend on how his back feels when it comes time to prepare for the start on the 13th, which would start on Tuesday. So the team will probably know whether Kluber is going to be healthy enough to make that start by this Wednesday or Thursday. If Kluber can’t go, then Clevinger will get another start. If Kluber looks ready to go, the Indians could send down Clevinger a couple days early if they need that extra reliever, though I think even eight relievers is overkill.
Austin Jackson’s spot for now is being used by a reliever, so unless the Indians make a roster to bring up an outfielder, Abe Almonte will the center fielder on Saturday (Jason Vargas) and Sunday (Danny Duffy), as well as at least one of the Toronto games. Tyler Naquin hasn’t played since Tuesday with a back injury, and might not have been a good fit on the roster anyway. Yandy Diaz has been playing some outfield since returning to Columbus, and if Jackson is going to be out for a while, could become an option, though I think the Indians would prefer he stay in Triple-A for a bit longer.