Now that the Indians have officially punched their ticket to the 2020 postseason with a 5-3 extra-innings walk-off win over the White Sox on Tuesday, let’s take a look at some playoff-focused questions surrounding the Tribe. What could the postseason roster look like? SP: Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco,
Now that the Indians have officially punched their ticket to the 2020 postseason with a 5-3 extra-innings walk-off win over the White Sox on Tuesday, let’s take a look at some playoff-focused questions surrounding the Tribe.
What could the postseason roster look like?
SP: Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie
RP: Brad Hand, James Karinchak, Nick Wittgren, Oliver Pérez, Phil Maton, Cal Quantrill, Adam Plutko, Cam Hill
C: Roberto Pérez, Sandy León, Austin Hedges
1B: Carlos Santana
2B: Cesar Hernandez
SS: Francisco Lindor
3B: José Ramírez
DH: Franmil Reyes
LF: Josh Naylor
CF: Delino DeShields
RF: Tyler Naquin
Bench: Oscar Mercado, Jordan Luplow, Mike Freeman, Yu Chang
Could this roster change?
Absolutely. The Indians could easily decide to carry an extra bullpen arm, especially if the Tribe would advance beyond the Wild Card Series. Once the team would get into a five-game series like the American League Division Series with no off-days during the round this season, it could certainly decide to bulk up the bullpen.
Who else could be considered for the roster?
The Indians released the 12-man player pool they will carry throughout the postseason on Monday afternoon. Should the Indians make a roster change, the Tribe has three starting pitchers (Logan Allen, Sam Hentges, Scott Moss), three relievers (Kyle Nelson, Dominic Leone, Adam Cimber) and six position players (Daniel Johnson, Bradley Zimmer, Domingo Santana, Jake Bauers, Ernie Clement and Beau Taylor) to choose from.
What will the rotation look like?
After the Indians secured a 7-4 win over the White Sox on Monday, putting them in a position where clinching a postseason berth was inevitable, they decided to push back Bieber’s start to Wednesday. That will allow the right-hander to be on six days of rest for his next start and six days of rest for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
Plesac is slated to start on Thursday, so the earliest he would be ready to pitch would be Tuesday. Assuming the club wouldn’t want him to have too many days off between starts, he’d be lined up for Game 2 of the Wild Card round on Wednesday. That would leave Carrasco or Civale for the series finale. After Carrasco’s hot streak to end the season, it’s likely he’d get the nod.
Now that Bieber is in line for Game 1, the Tribe will use the final week of the regular season to try to build as much offensive momentum as possible. Ramírez’s bat has been scorching hot, as he homered in the 10th to walk it off on Tuesday, and the team is hoping the rest of the offense will follow suit.
The Indians can now breathe a sigh of relief and solely focus on preparing for the postseason. However, if the team could catch fire in the final few games of the regular season, there’s still a slight chance the Indians could pass the Twins in the AL Central in order to move into a higher seed. As of Tuesday night, Cleveland sat two games behind Minnesota with five games to play.
What is the Wild Card round schedule?
Game 1 is set for Sept. 29, with Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) following on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. There are no days off in this round.
Who will the Indians play in the first round?
It appears as though the American League has its eight seeds set: the White Sox, A’s, Rays, Twins, Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays and Indians. What’s left is to figure out the order. The Tribe currently owns the top Wild Card spot (the No. 7 seed) and can only advance higher if it catches the Twins. If the postseason began today, the No. 7 Indians would face the No. 2 White Sox.
Bieber will be a tough matchup for any team, but the Indians wouldn’t be too excited in having to face Lucas Giolito, either. However, of the A’s, Rays or White Sox, the Tribe may be hoping to be able to take on Chicago, as the Indians have won six of the first eight matchups against the White Sox this season.
Who could be a breakout candidate?
Though it may sound odd to have one of their most acclaimed power hitters considered to be a breakout candidate, Santana could be the most likely to fall into this category. The Tribe’s cleanup hitter entered Monday with a .295 slugging percentage before hitting a two-run blast that gave the Indians the lead in the fifth inning that night. He’s hit just .189 on the year with a .648 OPS and six homers.
Can the Indians win it all?
The inconsistent offense remains Cleveland’s biggest question mark. But as Indians manager Terry Francona always says, a team can never be counted out if it has strong pitching. And that’s exactly what the Indians have. A Bieber-Plesac-Carrasco trio would be dangerous in a three-game series, and the Tribe’s pitching depth in Civale and McKenzie could prove an advantage if the team advances to the five-game ALDS or the seven-game ALCS, as both rounds will not have any off-days. No matter how the offense fares, the Indians’ pitching will at least give them a chance to be able to make a run.