CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians had plenty of decisions to make when putting together their 25-man roster for the American League Division Series, where they will face either the New York Yankees or Minnesota Twins in a best-of-five matchup.
And the Indians focused on roster versatility over everything else, especially when it comes to the pitching rotation, where they kept staff ace Corey Kluber on a five-day schedule, electing to start him in Game 2 and Trevor Bauer in Game 2.
“We’re trying to get as much flexibility as we can: one, wanting to win every game, and two, you never know on weather this time of year,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “There’s a lot of factors. We wanted to keep Kluber on his day, so that was the reason for the two, five because it’ll be on his regular day.
“We didn’t try to overcomplicate it. I think the main reason is trying to turn a 25-man roster basically into like 27 by having some of your starters available in the bullpen if need be.”
The rotation and bullpen were not the only places the Indians sought versatility, as they kept outfielders Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall on the roster, figuring those players could be used in pinch-hit roles late in games for infielders Giovanny Urshela and Erik Gonzalez.
“That’s where Brantley comes into play because his ability to hit for one of those guys is a real weapon,” Francona said.
“We’ll have somebody over there that’s really good defensively. If we feel the need to hit, we can, and if we ever have to, we could bring Kip in to play second and move Ramirez to third. You have the ability to pinch hit three times if you want or twice if you want.”
Additionally, the Indians penciled in former infielder Jason Kipnis into the lineup at center field
“I think Kip’s just fine,” Francona said. “I think he’s just fine. Like I said the other day, if he makes a mistake out there, I’ll take the blame for it because I’m appreciative of his embracing doing it because I think it has a chance to help us win games. That’s how I view it. I think it has a heck of a lot better chance of helping us win than it has of hurting us and hurting our chances to win.”