Indians manager Terry Francona announced Saturday that Trevor Bauer, not Cy Young hopeful Corey Kluber, will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday (via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). Kluber will then take the ball in Game 2 against the Boston. Those two would also start the fourth and fifth games of the series, if necessary, with Josh Tomlin handling Game 3. Kluber has been dealing with a mild quad strain, which the Indians think makes Bauer a better fit for both the first and fourth games – the latter of which would come on three days’ rest. Bauer wrapped up his regular season Saturday with a quality start in a win over the Royals, giving him a 4.26 ERA, 7.96 K/9, 3.32 BB/9 and 48.7 percent ground-ball rate in a career-high 190 innings.
More from around the majors:
- In order to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 and return to the playoffs next year, the Pirates will need to focus on pitching and defense during the winter, opines Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Trading five-time All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen could improve the team in those areas, argues Sawchik, who observes that the soon-to-be 30-year-old has declined significantly as a defender, baserunner and hitter this season (though, as Sawchik notes, his bat has come alive over the past two months). With right-hander Ivan Nova likely to depart as a free agent, the Bucs will have another need to fill in an already questionable-looking rotation, and Sawchik posits that dealing McCutchen could land them a replacement. McCutchen has two years and a reasonable $28.5MM remaining on his contract, and the Pirates have a possible in-house successor in top prospect Austin Meadows. If McCutchen is still in Pittsburgh in 2017, general manager Neal Huntington expects a much better season from the 2013 National League MVP. “With the foundation we are working from, we believe Andrew is going to be one of those guys that has a quality bounce-back year,” Huntingon told Sawchik.
- The Athletics are reportedly unlikely to bring back Danny Valencia in 2017, but the third baseman/right fielder hopes to stay in Oakland. Valencia told John Hickey of the Mercury News he’d “like to think I’ve cemented my position here for next year.” The 32-year-old has been an easily above-average offensive producer dating back to last season, his first with the A’s, but there have been rumors of clubhouse issues with Valencia and he did get into an altercation with then-teammate Billy Butler in August. Valencia, who’s on a $3.15MM salary, has hit a solid .289/.349/.450 with 17 home runs in 513 plate appearances this year and is scheduled to go through arbitration for the third and final time during the offseason.
- With the possible exception of a Ryan Braun trade, the Brewers’ upcoming offseason should be much quieter than last winter, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In GM David Stearns’ first offseason at the helm, the rebuilding Brewers turned over half the 40-man roster – something Stearns is pleased with a year later. Milwaukee has “increased the amount of young talent on our team and throughout the organization,” Stearns told Haudricourt. “The more young talent you have, the fewer spots you have to fill. So, I think it’s fair to say it would be unlikely for us to have the same amount of roster turnover.”