The deciding game five of the ALDS will take place in Cleveland on Wednesday night at 8:00 pm on FS1. The winner will face Houston for the American League pennant. If Cleveland wins, they will host Houston on Friday, if New York wins, they will visit Houston on Friday. One team will move on and one team will go home unhappy.
New York has played very well the last two games. Cleveland played well in game three but not in game four. One of Cleveland’s many strengths is the team defense, but that was not on display Monday night as six of the seven runs scored by New York were unearned thanks to four Cleveland errors, two of which came from sure-handed Giovanny Urshela.
There’s an old saying, “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.” If New York wants to face Houston on Friday, they will have to beat the ace of the former AL Champs who is arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Corey Kluber will take the mound for the Indians against former Cleveland ace CC Sabathia in a rematch of game two. One would have to think that New York won’t walk all over Kluber again, though, if New York is going to get to the ALCS, they will have to go through Kluber.
Indians manager, Terry Francona, told reporters on Tuesday that he is looking at many different lineup decisions. Francona said, “I’ve got about four lineups down there, just because there’s a lot of either/or’s. We’ll figure it out”. Francona also informed the media that Urshela may not be available to play Wednesday as he is still in pain from a ball hit off the bat of Starlin Castro in the second inning of game 4. With Urshela’s injury and the injury to Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians look to be playing slightly shorthanded.
Per MLB rules, if a player is to be placed on the disabled list during the postseason, they will be ineligible for play during the series that they were placed on the DL and for the subsequent series after (if applicable). In this situation, if either player goes on the DL they would be ineligible for the ALCS as well. Depending on the severity of Urshela’s injury, the Tribe may decide to keep Urshela off of the ALCS roster assuming they make it there.
Cleveland may have a more vintage lineup if Urshela is unable to play. You may see Jason Kipnis back at second and Jose Ramirez back at third with Greg Allen making a start in center and Austin Jackson in left. You could also see Erik Gonzalez at third and have Kipnis and Ramirez at center and second (respectively) with Jackson in left. Francona likes to play matchups so the latter lineup scenario seems likely, though, don’t be surprised to see Francona go with the former alignment either as having more veterans in their normal spots is a good idea too.
Assuming that Francona wants to maximize the lefty-righty matchup, expect Jackson (9-30 in his career against Sabathia) to start against the lefty Sabathia and potentially Gonzalez to start if Urshela is unavailable. Michael Brantley would probably get another start if Encarnacion is unavailable, though Brantley is 1-11 in the ALDS and is 1-13 in his career against Sabathia. Encarnacion, Cleveland’s righty power hitter, is 15-55 (.273) in his career against Sabathia.
Carlos Santana may bat fifth instead of sixth as Santana is 10-19 (.526) lifetime against Sabathia this would allow Cleveland to have hitters one, three and five to be switch-hitters. The lineup will likely be: Francisco Lindor, Kipnis, Ramirez, Encarnacion, Santana, Jay Bruce, Jackson, catcher spot, Urshela/Gonzalez/Allen. This is not the official lineup.
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