The crown jewels of the Indians’ trade deadline heist are set to arrive in Cleveland later today, as Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes are slated to start in right field and designated hitter, respectively.
Puig and Reyes should provide an immediate boost for the Indians lineup, and it comes not a moment too soon. Along with seven other Indians batters you’ve come to know and love over the last month, they will be facing Gerrit Cole and the Astros, while also bracing for the volatility of Danny Salazar making his first start in almost two calendar years.
Puig will play in right field, which will put Tyler Naquin in left for the first time since last season, and only the sixth time in his major-league career. Puig will bat clean-up for the Tribe, knocking Jason Kipnis out of a spot that he’s held for far too long, given the type of season he’s having. Kip will instead bat seventh with the protection of Roberto “nothing but dingers” Pérez hitting behind him.
As for Reyes, who is now the Tribe’s leading home-run hitter with 27, the big right-handed power bat will be the Tribe’s DH and bat sixth.
For the first time all season — maybe multiple seasons? — the top half of the Indians lineup looks downright formidable. Until Mercado shows more rookie cracks, there are no breaks in this lineup, one through six, with Lindor, Mercado, Santana, Puig, Ramírez, and Reyes all coming up back-to-back. You could even make the argument that Pérez and Naquin are a formidable bottom-of-the-order combination if everything is working right. Heck, Jason Kipnis finding something isn’t out of the question, either. Bring on the dingers.
To clear space on the roster, the Indians have optioned Jake Bauers and Greg Allen to Triple-A. It’s a predictable move given the struggles of those two and the pair of outfielders entering the fold. You could make a pretty easy case against Terry Francona holding a million relievers, but you’d likely lose that argument with the skipper.