Indians revise rotation for series with Royals

BY foxsports • September 30, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Cleveland Indians are in a strange predicament after their game Thursday at Detroit was rained out.

While the Indians have already clinched the American League Central, they are still contending for the best AL record and home-field advantage. The Tigers are still in the hunt for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

But after a four-hour plus delay with more than six inches of rain pouring on the field, the game was called. It will be made up Monday in Detroit if necessary for postseason ramifications.

While the Indians close out the regular season (maybe) with three games this weekend in Kansas City, they could wind up playing Monday.

"I think we'd like to talk to everybody Monday," Indians manager Terry Francona said about picking the 25-man playoff roster. "We're supposed to have an optional workout but we might be here playing. We'll try, for the players' sake we'll try to have decisions made so we can tell everybody what's going on."

The revised rotation has left-hander Ryan Merritt making his first major league start Friday at Kansas City. He was slated to start Thursday. Right-handers Trevor Bauer, Saturday, and Josh Tomlin, Sunday, will remain in their slots. Right-hander Adam Plutko was originally scheduled to start Friday, but Merritt will replace him.

"If we were to play Monday, that would actually be a better day for Tomlin to pitch, because it gets more closer, less time in between (starts)," Francona said. "But if we don't know, we're not going to gamble on it. We'll see. Unless we knew we'd probably have a bullpen day. If they went into their game Sunday and they weren't sure there was going to be a game, we're not going to hold Tomlin out. We've got to worry about ourselves."

While the Indians know they are in the postseason, the 2015 World Series champion Royals are aware they will not be in the playoffs for the first time in three years. They were mathematically eliminated on Wednesday.

The Royals have been riddled by injuries to key players this season, including All-Stars Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Wade Davis and Lorenzo Cain missing significant time. If they were healthy all season, the Royals might be back in the postseason.

"There is really no playing the what-if game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It doesn't do you any good."

The Royals will start right-hander Yordano Ventura for the series opener Friday. Ventura has won three of his past four decisions at Kauffman Stadium, where he is 7-4 with a 4.31 ERA and opponents batting .248 off him. Ventura gave up 10 hits, matching a season high, in four innings in a no-decision against Detroit in his previous start.

Ventura is 5-2 with a 3.56 ERA since Aug. 1. Prior to that, he was 6-9 with a 4.88 ERA.

Merritt went 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts with Triple-A Columbus. He has made three relief appearances with the Indians, allowing one run and three hits over six innings. Merritt, 24, was a 16th-round draft pick in 2011 out of McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, where he was a junior college All-American.

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