Travis Hafner quietly having a good, healthy year in Cleveland


He’s no longer the middle-of-the-lineup monster he was from 2004 to 2006 and the Indians have been pretty miserable all season, but Travis Hafner is quietly having a very productive and mostly healthy year.
He’s already played 101 games after shoulder problems limited him to a total of 151 games in the previous two seasons and Hafner has hit .298/.391/.483 in 80 games since a terrible first month.
That can’t compare to the incredible .308/.419/.611 line he posted during his three-year peak, but Hafner is hitting .347/.418/.551 since the All-Star break and has come back from the injuries to re-establish himself as a very solid designated hitter and middle-of-the-order threat. I’d credit the Indians for having the patience to stick with him throughout all the health problems and mediocre production, but in reality they didn’t have much of a choice.
As part of a contract extension signed in mid-2007, he’s making $11.5 million this season and is still owed $13 million for both 2011 and 2012, plus a $2.75 million buyout for 2013. His contract isn’t going to get any less cringe-inducing for Indians fans, but at least Hafner is back to being an asset again.

ALDS, Game 1: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups

Toronto Blue Jays' starting pitcher David Price works against the Baltimore Orioles during first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:

CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos

SP Yovani Gallardo

With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.

LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar

SP David Price

After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.

Astros leave Chad Qualls off playoff roster, add Preston Tucker

Chad Qualls Getty
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Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.

Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.

Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.