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Jason Kipnis returns as center fielder

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The outfield situation is still murky at best.

Colorado Rockies v Cleveland Indians Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

Latest 40-man Roster

Let’s take a moment to admire this pitching staff. Corey Kluber is second among all AL players in b-ref Wins Above Replacement, and there are 6 Indians out of the top 40 pitchers in AL WAR. But what is most incredible is not that performances of the key pitchers, but how good the role players have been. The Indians could have by season’s end 14 different pitchers worth at least 1.0 win. That’s a 12-man pitching staff plus two reserves. That was on full display in yesterday’s win against the Angels; Danny Salazar pitched only 2.2 innings, but Terry Francona had at his disposal a bullpen full of excellent relievers. Depth is so important when it comes to winning in the regular season, and the Indians may have the deepest pitching staff in at least recent history.

It should be mentioned that pitching bWAR (baseball-reference) uses Runs Allowed and makes some adjustments for the quality of the team defense, while Fangraphs uses Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) as their baseline, and makes some adjustments to that (particularly with how it treats infield flies). The two systems are trying to get to the same ideal, but goes about it in slightly different ways. This topic is worth a more in-depth comparison, but for now just know that there some inherent differences between the two. If you’re interested in looking at the differences for yourself, here’s a chart from baseball-reference and a writeup at Fangraphs.

Transactions

September 17

Activated 2B/OF Jason Kipnis from the 10-day Disabled List

The experiment in center field has gone to plan so far. Kipnis, when he’s been in the lineup, has played 6-7 innings in center field. The most important thing is that he’s healthy, and starting to get more comfortable at the plate.

Injury Updates

Remember when the Indians had all those outfielders on the major-league roster? Well, it’s a good thing they had them, for four of them are injured (one on the Disabled List and three more that haven’t played for at least a week).

The news is not good for Michael Brantley. Earlier this week the Indians released a statement saying that he would need to wait another 10 days (from this past Wednesday) before attempting to run on his injured ankle. He’s been batting while rehabbing the ankle, so at least he’s been able to stay somewhat sharp, but if he can’t even attempt to run for another week, then he’s not going to be available for the ALDS. At this point the best-case scenario seems to be that he’ll play in the ALCS if the Indians make it.

Both Brandon Guyer and Lonnie Chisenhall have been out of the lineup since last week; both last appeared in a game on September 14, and neither is going to play this weekend in Seattle. If healthy, Chisenhall will be on the ALDS roster. If healthy, Guyer may be on the ALDS, depending on who the opponent would be.

Postseason Roster Speculation, Part II

Last week, I started to think about what the ALDS roster might look at. Jason Kipnis was the main unknown, as not only was he returning from a hamstring injury, but playing an entirely new position in the process. It appears that Kipnis is healthy, though whether he can handle center field is still an open question. With that in mind, here’s my best guess at an ALDS roster:

Pitchers (11):

Starters: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger (perhaps bullpen)

Relievers: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Tyler Olson, Nick Goody, Dan Otero

Position Players (14):

Infielders: Carlos Santana, Edwin Encarnacion (DH), Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela

Outfielders: Jay Bruce, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall (if healthy), Austin Jackson, Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer (if healthy)/Abe Almonte

Catchers: Yan Gomes, Roberto Perez

I’m very confident in the pitching roster, especially if the Indians carry 11 pitchers. Mike Clevinger may not be slated to start a game in the ALDS, but at the very least he’d be available in the bullpen if a starter left early.

The position players I’m less confident in, and that’s due to injuries. If Jason Kipnis is the starting center fielder, I think you have to carry Greg Allen for late-inning defensive purposes. If the Indians face a right-handed heavy opponent in the ALDS, they might leave Guyer off the roster in favor of someone like Abe Almonte, Tyler Naquin, or Erik Gonzalez (as a late-inning pinch-runner).