Miguel Cabrera is back at third base for the Tigers on Monday after resting an abdominal strain for five days.
Cabrera made a pinch-hitting appearance Sunday against the White Sox and singled in his first at-bat since Tuesday, before immediately being removed for a pinch-runner.
The Tigers won all four games while Cabrera was absent and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak as they begin a series in Cleveland tonight. That took some of the pressure off Cabrera to hurry his return, but the 2012 AL MVP never likes to sit out for long. He played in 161 games in both 2011 and ’12, and he’s never come in under 150 in his nine full seasons as a major leaguer.
Cabrera is hitting .360/.455/.668 with 32 homers and 99 RBI this season. He leads the AL in average and is second to Baltimore’s Chris Davis in both homers and RBI.
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.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.