McAllister scheduled to start the Cleveland Indians’ fourth game for good reason

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Cleveland Indians set rotation order

The Cleveland Indians starting rotation not only has its five members but the order we will be seeing them.  Per Cleveland Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes:

There’s no surprise at all at the top with reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber getting the nod opening day. This has been known for a while, and it’s been assumed that once Gavin Floyd went down with his elbow injury that Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer would follow, in that order.  What remained a bit unclear was when the Indians would pitch the last two members of the rotation, Zach McAllister and T.J. House. Many assumed that McAllister would be the No. 5 starter given the fact that he was likely headed to the bullpen before Floyd’s injury. Instead the Indians have elected to start McAllister fourth, giving him the start for the home opener against division rival Detroit with House, after some initial confusion, getting the start the following game in the series.

At first, the decision to start McAllister fourth may seem like a bit of a head-scratching move; however, digging a little deeper and analyzing the Cleveland Indians’ schedule in April and it actually makes a lot of sense.  The Indians have four off days in the month of April, including three before they even play their ninth scheduled game.  All those off-days give Tribe skipper Francona the luxury of using only four starters at times and using the fifth starter out of the bullpen. Using McAllister on April 10th means that he will not be needed again until April 21st when the Indians face the White Sox.

Meanwhile T.J. House, scheduled to be the œfifth starting pitcher, will start April 11th and be available to pitch on April 17th. Here’s a chart to better show how the Cleveland Indians rotation could shake out over the first three weeks of the season (four-days rest is considered “normal rest”):
[table id=6 /]
It should also be noted that past the opening week, this is a bit of speculation on my part. The Cleveland Indians could very well not skip McAllister and instead give its starters extra rest early on. However, Francona did hint that he could use McAllister in the bullpen early on, so it’™s a fair bet that we likely will see a rotation order similar to the one I have listed above.

"“We’ll give him a start and then figure out how he can best impact us moving forward from there,” Francona said."

If this is how things shake out, it would give Tito and the Indians an eight (possibly ninth?) reliever for the series against the White Sox and Twins.  This sort of roster manipulation should come as no surprise as the Cleveland Indians made a habit of getting the most out of their roster spots last year, and it would appear that they plan on continuing that in 2015. 

Cleveland Indians’ lineup coming together as well

While we don’t know the full batting order that Francona will use this year, we may have our answer to who bats second in the lineup. Jose Ramirez batted second for the most part after the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera; however, it now looks like Jason Kipnis will be batting second to start the year. This may come as a surprise to many as it means that the Indians will have three left-handed hitters batting 1-2-3 as Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley are expected to bat first and third, respectively.  However, ultimately the Indians and Francona felt Kipnis was just too good a hitter to bat low in the order:

"“You’re talking about a guy that made the All-Star team a year ago and is a pretty good offensive player,” Francona said Wednesday. “You can have a little bit of balance, stick a switch-hitter in there, but what’s going to happen is you’re going to hit Kip lower and you’ll have Kip, Lonnie [Chisenhall] and [David] Murphy or [Brandon] Moss. So I really like the idea of Kip coming around late in the game getting that extra at-bat.”"

While many subscribe to the adage that your second hitter should be someone that simply moves your leadoff hitter over, the Indians appear to be embracing the new idea that you should bat your best hitters higher and get them the most at-bats possible.  It does remain to be seen though if Francona will stick with the L-L-L top of the order versus all left-handed pitchers or if he’ll change things up.

Next: Final Cleveland Indians roster spot up for grabs

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