When the Tigers designated Brandon Inge for assignment last month, he accepted a minor league assignment with Triple-A Toledo after being promised that he would rejoin the major league club in September. Well, he’s back a little sooner than originally expected.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Inge will have his contract purchased from the minors today and get the start at third base tonight against Indians’ left-hander David Huff.
Inge, 34, batted .287/.389/.519 with seven homers, 19 RBI and a .907 OPS over 126 plate appearances during his time with Triple-A Toledo, including a .395/.439/.684 batting line against southpaws. While he was designated for assignment after batting .177/.242/.242 over his first 239 plate appearances this season, he has a .793 career OPS against left-handed pitching compared to a .654 OPS against right-handers.
According to Beck, the Tigers made the move now because they are expected to see four or five left-handed starters between now and September 1. While Wilson Betemit, a switch-hitter, has seen most of the playing time at third base since being acquired from the Royals last month, he has an .812 career OPS against right-handed pitching compared to a .677 OPS against southpaws. Inge is also a much better defender, so this sounds like an ideal platoon situation.
The story of the Indians postseason cannot be told without talking about injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. They have forced Terry Francona to lean even harder on his bullpen than he otherwise may have and have cause the Indians to press rookie Ryan Merritt into service.
But Cleveland will be getting at least one of their starters back: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway that Danny Salazar will be part of the World Series roster.
Salazar has not pitched since early September due to a strained right flexor muscle, but according to Callaway, Salazar is ready to throw 65-70 pitches in a game. That could mean a start, probably in Game 4 after Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Merritt was a possible Game 4 starter, but he could either pair up with Salazar in a tandem start or serve in long relief.
Cubs’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber missed virtually the entire 2016 season due to torn knee ligaments, but he has been working his way back to health more quickly than initially expected. Indeed, he has been playing for the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League, serving as a DH. Many have speculated that the Cubs will activate him for the World Series.
Today, at his World Series media session, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that reports from Arizona are good on Schwarber and that the he will fly to Cleveland to join the team after tonight’s game in Arizona. Maddon says the team will make a decision on activating him once he arrives. The Cubs have until tomorrow morning to set their World Series roster.
Our guess is that Schwarber will get the call and will serve as the DH for the Cubs in Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7 in Cleveland. If so, a lost season could very quickly turn into a storybook season for the Cubs’ young slugger.