CLEVELAND -- Let the postseason preparations begin.
The Indians' magic number has reached one with six games to play, which almost makes it inevitable that the club will clinch over the coming days.
“There’s a lot in front of us,” temporary Indians manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “At the end of the day, we just have to play the games and see how the deck falls. We can’t control a lot of things that other teams do. We can only control the things that we do. We just have to focus on playing good baseball. How that’s going to end up, we can't manipulate the whole thing. We just have to play the game the right way. If we are in, officially, then we start making some different moves and stuff like that."
But with the Wild Card Series beginning in eight days, the team has already started to lay the groundwork for how its postseason plan will proceed.
Step 1: Enter the bubble
All possible playoff-bound teams must enter their individual bubbles beginning Tuesday by quarantining at a hotel (including teams in their home cities) to stay healthy for the postseason. However, the Indians received permission from Major League Baseball to not enter their bubble until Wednesday, so players and coaches had time to clear out their apartments after not getting back until late Sunday night from a 10-day road trip.
“The things that you're going to use for the next two weeks, you take it with you,” Alomar said. “The rest of the stuff, if you want to store it here at the ballpark, you can do that.”
Step 2: Determine the rotation
Ace Shane Bieber was orignally slated to take the rubber on Tuesday, which would mean he’d be ready to make his next start on Sunday -- the final day of the regular season. After a 7-4 win over the White Sox on Monday night, the club pushed back Bieber’s start to Wednesday to make sure he’s ready closer to Game 1 of the Wild Card Series (Sept. 29) without too much rest between starts.
Righty Cal Quantrill got the nod for Tuesday's game in Bieber's place. He last pitched two innings on Saturday in Detroit.
Cleveland is waiting for the results of the Seattle/Houston game on Monday night before assembling its rotation.
Step 3: Submit 12-man player pool
The postseason will consist of a 28-man active roster and a 12-man player pool that will be carried like the club’s taxi squad should it need to make any roster changes between series. Each team will be limited to using the 12 players from the player pool. On Monday, the Indians released the names of the players they will carry for the rest of the regular season and into the postseason if they clinch.
The last day at the alternate training site in Lake County is Wednesday. The 12 selected players will begin working out with the big league squad at Progressive Field on Thursday morning.