Latest 40-man Roster
If you’re wondering, Corey Kluber has the second-highest bWAR in the American League, trailing only Jose Altuve (7.7). The rest of the pitching aren’t exactly slouches, either; the pitching staff as a whole is lapping the rest of the American League:
The second-place pitching staff (New York) trails Cleveland by 9.0 wins(!). It’s almost like this pitching staff would be capable of fueling an historic winning streak.
Activated LHP Andrew Miller from the 10-day disabled list
The plan is to get Miller into 5-6 games before the end of the regular season, by which time he’d be back to his normal dominant self. The playoff plan is to use him less than last year, but rarely do plans last past the first contact with the playoff opposition.
Jason Kipnis is going to be activated at some point this weekend, and will play in center field. If the experiment goes well enough, he’s your starting left fielder in the ALDS (at least against right-handed starters).
Bradley Zimmer had surgery on his injured finger this week, and will probably miss the rest of the season, however long it lasts. The 6-8 weeks listed above is when he’ll be able to resume “baseball activities,” and that means he won’t be swinging a bat until late October. If the Indians are willing to burn a roster spot on a pure pinch-runner, then perhaps he can contribute if the Indians play deep into October.
Michael Brantley still hasn’t been able to run on his injured ankle, and the regular season is quickly coming to a close. It’s getting harder and harder to imagine him making the ALDS roster.
Although the Indians haven’t officially clinched the AL Central title, let’s go ahead and assume that they will (I know, I’m really jumping the gun). The ALDS schedule is the same whether the Indians end up as the #1, #2 or #3 seed, which is:
Thursday Oct 5 - Game 1
Friday Oct 6 - Game 2
Saturday Oct 7 - Off
Sunday Oct 8 - Game 3
Monday Oct 9 - Game 4 (if necessary)
Tuesday Oct 10 - Off
Wednesday Oct 11 - Game 5
Whether the Indians go with 3 or 4 starters (I’d think they’ll opt for 4, barring injury), they’ll need at most 11 pitchers. And even that is overdoing it given the two off days. That leaves room for at least 14 position players, with the Kipnis center field experiment largely determining who those 14 will be. If Kipnis shows he’ll do well enough to play in center field, then both Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshela should make the roster, but if it doesn’t work out, Urshela is probably going to be left off the roster, with Erik Gonzalez a better fit as the backup infielder.
The reserve outfielders will be determined not only by Kipnis, but also by who the Indians play in the ALDS. If it’s Boston, then both Brandon Guyer and Austin Jackson should make the roster even if Kipnis is the starting center fielder. But if they face New York or Minnesota, one of them could be left off. If Kipnis is in center field, I think Greg Allen becomes more likely to make the roster as a late-inning defensive replacement, though in any scenario he’d be useful as a pinch-runner.
By this time next week we should have a better idea as to whether Kipnis can handle center field, and that should clarify the options somewhat.