When the Indians activated David Huff to start in Sunday’s rained out game against Minnesota, they sent Shelley Duncan back to Columbus.
This move raised some eyebrows because at this point in the season, Duncan and Matt LaPorta are the only right-handed hitters with any pop on the 25 man roster.
With a series in Chicago coming up, it’s a little odd to remove a hitter who bats from the right side with Mark Buehrle starting one of the games, and two hard throwing lefties in the bullpen in Matt Thornton and Chris Sale.
There is no question Manny Acta will face a situation in at least one of those games in the Windy City where he needs a right-handed pinch hitter. Does he go to Lou Marson?
The Indians said they are going to make a decision on whether or not to put Michael Brantley and his sore wrist on the disabled list prior to the series against the White Sox. If they do, they can bring Duncan back up right away due to the injury.
Normally, a player has to spend ten days in the minors after being optioned out.
Maybe that’s the game plan all along.
However, if Brantley is ready to play against Chicago, the bench will consist of Marson, Jack Hannahan, Ezequiel Carrera, and Jason Donald. Marson and Donald hit right-handed, but neither is the type of player you want to have up there with the game on the line.
So, you have to think that some kind of roster move is coming.
Keep in mind, designating Austin Kearns for assignment also leaves an opening on the 40 man roster, possibly for Jerad Head, currently at Columbus, or perhaps for a waiver wire trade to pick up a right-handed bat.
If a move isn’t coming, or Duncan isn’t brought back up because of Brantley’s injury, the Indians are leaving themselves very vulnerable to southpaws in a critical point of the season.
Now, some of the Indians left-handed hitters wouldn’t be pinch hit for no matter who is on the mound. We’re talking about guys like Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, Kosuke Fukudome, or Brantley.
However, what happens when Lonnie Chisenhall comes up in a tight spot against Thornton? You have to give Acta an option in that situation.
So don’t be surprised if there are a couple of roster moves made prior to the six game trip to Chicago and Detroit.
Also, with Sunday’s rainout, Tuesday’s game will start a stretch of 45 games in 44 days for the Indians, taking them through the end of the season.
It means pitching depth will be needed, and thankfully, Cleveland has some.
The Tribe will have to start guys like Huff, Carlos Carrasco (when healthy), and perhaps even Jeanmar Gomez or Zack McAllister in key games going down the stretch.
Thankfully, all of those guys have shown the ability to at least keep their team in a game this season.
The Indians also have some bullpen depth for all of those September games too, as they will probably add Josh Judy, Nick Hagadone, and maybe even Zach Putnam or C.C. Lee to the roster after the September 1st date when rosters can expand.
That’s why organizations stress getting arms. You never know when you will need them in key spots.