CLEVELAND -- Only a few weeks ago, Michael Brantley looked like a long shot to be ready in time for the postseason. On Thursday, the All-Star left fielder defied the odds once again when he was officially included on the Indians' roster for the American League Division Series presented by
CLEVELAND -- Only a few weeks ago, Michael Brantley looked like a long shot to be ready in time for the postseason. On Thursday, the All-Star left fielder defied the odds once again when he was officially included on the Indians' roster for the American League Division Series presented by Dooson against the Yankees.
"Personally, it's just great to be back with this team," Brantley said. "I've said it before, this is a team effort all the way around, and whatever is best for this team. If I'm on the roster, which I am, I want to be able to help out in the best way I can. Everyone in this locker room deserves to be a part of this, and we're going to do this together."
:: ALDS schedule and coverage ::
The ALDS begins with Game 1 at 7:30 ET tonight at Progressive Field, where Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer will start opposite Yankees righty Sonny Gray. Brantley, who is returning from a right ankle ligament injury that he sustained in early August, will likely be used as a pinch-hitter early on, with the goal of increasing his availability as the series goes on.
Here is a glance at the Indians' ALDS roster:
Rotation: Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin
Kluber led the rotation this season with a campaign that has him in the running for a second career AL Cy Young Award, going 18-4 with a Major League-low 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts. Cleveland's rotation as a whole led the Majors in wins (81) and strikeouts (1,066), while posting an AL-best 3.52 ERA. The Tribe's starters combined for a 2.67 ERA in the second half, helping power the team's 55-20 mark after the All-Star break. Bauer (17-9, 4.19 ERA) and Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA) also had career years.
Bullpen: Cody Allen, Mike Clevinger, Andrew Miller, Tyler Olson, Danny Salazar, Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith
Indians manager Terry Francona built this postseason bullpen with flexibility and versatility in mind. Beyond the group listed, both Bauer (later in the ALDS) and Tomlin (early in the ALDS) might also be on call as relievers. Francona wanted as many multi-inning weapons as possible, explaining why Clevinger and Salazar (starters by trade) are in the 'pen. Miller and Allen shouldered a heavy load last October, and while that will remain the case this year, Cleveland hopes to effectively bridge the gap to the late innings. This year, the Indians' bullpen led baseball with a 2.89 ERA.
Infield: Edwin Encarnacion, Erik Gonzalez, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana and Giovanny Urshela
Lindor and Ramirez have provided a dynamic up-the-middle duo that has Indians fans reminiscing about the days of Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar. They provide steller defense and both turned in AL MVP Award-caliber offensive showings. Lindor and Ramirez became the first Tribe teammates (and third set overall) to each have 80 or more extra-base hits in the same season since 1996 (Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez). Santana (.906 OPS in second half) handles the bulk of the innings at first, while Encarnacion (38 homers and 107 RBIs) slots in as the designated hitter. Urshela offers strong defense at third, while Gonzalez can bounce all over the diamond as a surehanded utility man.
Outfield: Greg Allen, Brantley, Jay Bruce, Lonnie Chisenhall, Austin Jackson and Jason Kipnis
With Brantley likely limited at first, expect Chisenhall and Jackson to split up the duties in left field. Like Brantley, Chisenhall is also returning from a recent injury, but Jackson (.869 OPS overall and 1.013 OPS against lefties this year) has been a godsend for the Tribe's outfield. Given Ramirez's strong play at second, Kipnis transitioned to center in September. Allen offers plus defense and speed, making him a late-inning option for center or as a pinch-runner. Bruce (36 homers, 101 RBIs and an .832 OPS) was acquired from the Mets in August, took over in right, and he helped lengthen Cleveland's already-deep lineup.
Catchers: Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez
Not only did Gomes and Perez help guide the best top-to-bottom pitching staff in baseball, the catchers were also among the best in the Majors defensively. Cleveland's catchers led MLB with a 43-percent caught-stealing rate, allowed the fewest stolen bases (50) in baseball and ranked third in Defensive Runs Saved (seven) at the position. Offensively, Tribe catchers posted a .692 OPS on the season, but they produced the second-most RBIs (94) among the team's positions. Over the final six weeks of the season, Perez earned more innings behind the plate.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.