Brennan making case for playoff roster spot

October 2nd, 2022

CLEVELAND -- On May 24, was with Double-A Akron. After a promotion to Triple-A on May 26, he was still with Columbus as recently as Sept. 20. But just a few weeks later, on Oct. 2, it’s hard to imagine a Guardians postseason roster without him.

Brennan logged the first two extra-base hits of his career in Sunday’s 7-5 win over the Royals at Progressive Field, smacking a leadoff triple in the first before launching a three-run homer in the second. He became the first Cleveland rookie to have a homer, triple and at least three RBIs in a game since Tyler Naquin in 2016.

“There's a reason we called him up when we did,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “It's a pretty big compliment to him. We felt like he could help us moving forward when there's only three weeks left in the season. That's probably the biggest compliment we could give him.”

The Guardians knew their best roster heading into the playoffs needed to include Brennan. The team opted to let him play as long as possible at Triple-A Columbus so that he could continue to get everyday at-bats. Cleveland wanted him to stay ready, so that if his playing time was more sporadic in the big leagues, he’d have enough reps under his belt from the Minor League season that it wouldn’t set him back.

It was a strategy that some might have questioned, but it’s certainly paying off. In nine games, Brennan is hitting .344 with a triple, a homer, seven RBIs, two stolen bases, two walks and just three strikeouts.

“Just keep doing what we’re doing: Have professional at-bats, see pitches, know your role,” Brennan said of his approach. “I’m going to go just do my best. Plain and simple.”

His showing so far has made him an obvious candidate for the Guardians’ postseason roster. Although the rules state that in order to participate in the playoffs a player must have been on the 40-man roster by Sept. 1, Brennan would still be able to play in the postseason as long as he’s replacing an injured player (in this case, Anthony Gose).

In just nine short days, Brennan has been able to soak up the intensity of the environment into which he’s been thrust. He’s been able to help his team in critical games, participate in a clinch and now prepare for the playoffs.

“It’s a real test, I’ll tell you that much,” Brennan said. “I started the year in Akron. I didn’t think I was going to be up here. I was going to try to have a good year at every level that I was at and every team that I was at and try to help them win. But I guess it’s just kind of a test to see where I’m at as a player and person and see what I can handle.”

The Guardians are confident that he can handle a lot, just like their other rookies have proven this season. No matter what’s been thrown on the youngest team in baseball’s plate, no one has shown signs of crumbling. Instead, all of the rookies have been able to rise to the occasion. Outfielder set the tone on Opening Day and continued the trend when he joined the team in May.

“The standard that these guys continue to set elevates everybody else's game,” Guardians starter said. “Kwan doing what he did to start the season has allowed multiple guys -- not just rookies, but multiple guys -- to realize that all right, we're going to go ahead and do this thing. For Will to come right up and play the way he's played and have his demeanor, I'm super in on his demeanor and the way he plays the game.”

After Bo Naylor’s debut on Saturday, the Guardians have had a franchise record-tying 17 players make their debuts this season.

“Everybody ready to chip in and willing to do their part to end up on the winning side has been big,” Bieber said.

Brennan hasn’t had much time to get his feet wet, and he’ll likely be thrown into the deep end when the Guardians host Game 1 of the Wild Card Series on Friday at Progressive Field. The team has been able to rely on youth so far, so who’s to say it won’t continue with yet another rookie in the mix?

“I feel like I’ve learned that I belong,” Brennan said. “This is my childhood dream. I’ve always wanted this. It’s pretty cool.”