Why is Asdrubal Cabrera batting cleanup for the Indians?

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Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .243 with eight homers and a .397 slugging percentage in 90 games this season after slugging .423 in 143 games last season, but he’s been the Indians’ cleanup hitter since Nick Swisher was demoted from that role three weeks ago.

Since moving into the cleanup spot Cabrera is 15-for-66 (.227) with one homer and a .364 slugging percentage in 16 games. So why does he continue to bat fourth? Here’s how manager Terry Francona explained it to Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Cabby’s got a pretty good track record. He’s going to get hot. And if you move Cabby too soon–say, down to sixth or seventh–you won’t get the most out of it. So I want to keep him where he is. To be bluntly honest, if he doesn’t get hot, we might not be good enough. I’m not trying to put all that on him, but the reality is, we need Cabby.

Cabby hasn’t swung the bat as well as he’d like, but he handles it. Putting a younger player there, you could mess some things up. And some of the other guys are doing pretty well right where they are.

Cabrera’s “pretty good track record” now includes a .413 career slugging percentage. As for the other stuff about how “he handles it” despite not hitting well and how “you could mess things up” by putting a young hitter there … that’s some textbook manager-speak.

In general batting order gets way more attention (and criticism) than it should, but with the Indians fighting the Tigers (and now the Royals) in the AL Central a game or two could make or break their season and it’s tough to see how putting Cabrera in position to get the most RBI chances is helping.

Brewers place Eric Thames on disabled list with torn UCL in left thumb

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On Wednesday, the Brewers placed first baseman Eric Thames on the 10-day disabled list with a torn UCL in his left thumb. In a corresponding roster move, the Brewers recalled pitcher Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Thames, 31, exited Tuesday’s game against the Royals before the bottom of the ninth inning. After the game, manager Craig Counsell expressed concern about his thumb. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports, Brewers GM David Stearns says that surgery is likely but not definite, but that he expects Thames to be back for a “significant” portion of the 2018 season.

Thames was hitting quite well for the Brewers, owning a .250/.351/.625 triple-slash line along with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 74 plate appearances. Jesus Aguilar should handle first base while Thames is out. Ryan Braun could also see some action at first base.