Cleveland Indians: Michael Brantley’s playoff availability in doubt

The Cleveland Indians will likely be without Michael Brantley for a second consecutive postseason, which could mean the end of his time in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians fans are dealing with the reality of a second straight postseason without Michael Brantley.

The team responded in 2016 with help from players like Brandon Guyer, Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis, and the depth is there once again this season.

Guyer, Abraham Almonte, Greg Allen, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jay Bruce and even Jason Kipnis are competing for the available spots, giving fans faith in the team’s chances to win it all even without Brantley. A 22-game win streak helps the confidence as well.

Brantley has been dealing with an ankle injury for over a month that has prevented him from being able to run, and an update given Wednesday wasn’t too promising.

Terry Francona is one of the best managers in professional sports. He is positive and cares about his players, never being someone to rule out the impossible.

But when he says Brantley isn’t looking likely to be healthy for the ALDS, it sure does put his remaining availability in doubt. Even if he can return, he would have to be solely used as a pinch hitter, as the DH spot is taken by Edwin Encarnacion. But even then, having him pinch hit is hoping for a Kirk Gibson situation.

The team would be better served giving that roster spot to a player like Greg Allen who can be an effective pinch runner and a late-game defender. We know Brantley is talented when healthy, but thrusting him into a postseason situation fresh off an ankle injury may not be the best idea when the current talent on the roster has been thriving heading into the postseason.

This then brings up the talk of Brantley’s team option in 2018, which is looking less likely to be picked up with each passing day.

$12 million for a player with a major history of injuries isn’t a great deal for a small market team like the Indians who could use that money to pay Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce or even both.

I have no ill will toward Brantley and I, along with many Indians fans, want to see him recover and return to the All-Star level of play he has showcased in the past.

But when it comes to chasing a title this year, the Indians must go with healthy players who can serve specific roles. Unfortunately, Brantley doesn’t fit into that equation.