CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians are close to clinching the Central Division title, but are also trying to piece together their injury-riddled starting rotation to get them through the remainder of the regular season.
That fact will be apparent Saturday in the second contest of their three-game series with the Chicago White Sox.
The pitching matchup will be Cody Anderson (2-4, 6.24 ERA) for the Indians and Jose Quintana (12-11, 3.26) for the White Sox.
Anderson is making a spot start in the Indians' makeshift rotation. With Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar out with season-ending injuries, it's created an opening in the No. 5 spot, which Anderson fills Saturday.
“We told him to treat as though he's a reliever coming into the game,” manager Terry Francona said. “We want him to try to impact the game for two or three innings, not try to go five or six.”
Anderson has started and relieved for the Indians and Triple-A Columbus this year. He began the season in the Indians' rotation, but got off to a bad start and was demoted to Columbus.
In eight starts for the Indians, he is 1-3 with a 7.65 ERA. In nine relief appearances, he is 1-1 with a 3.06 ERA. At Columbus, Anderson appeared in 13 games (six starts) and he was 0-2 with a 3.62 ERA.
He has had success as a starter at the big league level. In 15 starts for the Indians in the second half of the 2015 season, Anderson was 7-3, 3.05 ERA.
Anderson has also fared well against Chicago. In three appearances (two starts) against the White Sox this year he is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. In his career he has four appearances (three starts) versus Chicago and is 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA.
Francona is reluctant to talk about the postseason until the Indians officially clinch the Central Division title — their magic number for doing so is three — but said he thinks his healthy pitchers, in the rotation and in the bullpen, are holding up well over a long season's worth of work.
“Nobody looks like they are on fumes,” Francona said. “And a lot of these guys have never pitched in September, much less October.”
Quintana is 1-2 with a 2.60 ERA in four starts against the Indians this year. In 18 career appearances (16 starts) versus Cleveland he is 6-3, 2.58.
The White Sox will likely play short-handed as center fielder Adam Eaton is expected to be unavailable. Eaton had to leave Friday's game in the sixth inning after running into the center field wall while making a catch on a fly ball hit by Roberto Perez.
Eaton hit the wall running at top speed, and fell to the warning track on his back, but held onto to the ball. He remained on the track for several minutes and needed assistance walking off the field.
“He's pretty banged up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It knocked the air out of him. He hit his hip, and felt that his back locked up on him. His shoulder — everything. We're going to get him checked out.”