CLEVELAND -- The Indians want Trevor Bauer in their postseason rotation. In order to do that, the team has worked with the pitcher on mapping out a schedule that will allow him to make three abbreviated starts before the end of the regular season.That process will begin on Friday, when
CLEVELAND -- The Indians want Trevor Bauer in their postseason rotation. In order to do that, the team has worked with the pitcher on mapping out a schedule that will allow him to make three abbreviated starts before the end of the regular season.
That process will begin on Friday, when Bauer is activated from the disabled list in order to start and log a couple of innings against the Red Sox. Barring any setbacks, the Indians pitcher -- sidelined since mid-August due to a stress fracture in his right fibula -- would start again on Tuesday (at White Sox) and potentially on Sept. 30 (at Royals) in preparation for the American League Division Series.
"Getting [Bauer] back is great," manager Terry Francona said prior to Wednesday's game against the White Sox at Progressive Field. "His goal, and ours, is to see if he can start. But if he can't, having him in the bullpen is still really positive. We asked him for his honesty on how he is feeling, and we'll give him our feedback. But this was the best way to do it."
Bauer was in the midst of the AL Cy Young Award conversation when his season was stalled by a Jose Abreu comebacker on Aug. 11 in Chicago. Through 25 starts before the injury, the right-hander went 12-6 with a 2.22 ERA and 214 strikeouts against 56 walks in 166 innings. In terms of WAR, Bauer is still tied for first in the AL via Fangraphs (6.0) and ranks fourth in the AL via Baseball Reference (5.6).
Bauer logged 40 pitches in two simulated innings off Progressive Field's main mound before Saturday's game, giving the team a chance to collect data about his delivery and pitches. Bauer followed that up with three simulated innings (roughly 60 pitches) against hitters on Tuesday.
That led to Wednesday's meetings to determine the next step for the All-Star pitcher. Francona said Bauer's rehab work and throwing program over the past month helped put him in a spot where he can now start ramping back up for a place on Cleveland's postseason roster.
"[Bauer]'s got himself in a position where he's jumping right into games," Francona said. "You don't have to worry about his arm. He's given himself every chance possible by the way he attacked his rehab."
• Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber will move to the bullpen, and the plan is to have him come out of the bullpen after Bauer on Friday. If Bauer works his way back into the playoff rotation, Bieber would likely assume a relief role. If that is the case, Francona likes Bieber's ability to consistently throw strikes, stay poised and log multi-inning outings.
"[Bieber]'s not being 'relegated' to the bullpen," Francona said. "He'd be going there to help us win."
• Bauer's return also impacts the schedule of right-hander Mike Clevinger. Francona said he and pitching coach Carl Willis gave Clevinger the option of following Bauer out of the bullpen on Friday or starting on Saturday. Clevinger opted to take the ball Saturday, meaning he will be working on six days of rest. Righty Adam Plutko will then start in Sunday's finale against Boston.
"We gave him the choice," Francona said of Clevinger. "He feels like he's in such a good spot in his routines"
• Third baseman Josh Donaldson was in Wednesday's starting lineup against the White Sox, marking his first back-to-back starts since May. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion was also back in the lineup, following three days of rest for a mild right ankle injury.
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.