Cleveland Guardians News

Cleveland Indians: Encarnacion heading to DL, big opportunity for Diaz

coreilly
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 13: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians strikes out against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Progressive Field on July 13, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Yankees 6-5. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 13: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Cleveland Indians strikes out against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Progressive Field on July 13, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Yankees 6-5. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Cleveland Indians have lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to the 10-day DL, but his absence provides a chance for an inexperienced player to prove himself.

On the same night that Trevor Bauer took a Jose Abreu line drive directly to his ankle in the seventh inning, the Cleveland Indians announced that Edwin Encarnacion will visit the 10-day disabled list with swelling in his left biceps.

The injury bug appears to have ramped up its assault against the Tribe of late, with Leonys Martin also having landed on the DL prior to the weekend.

Thankfully, Encarnacion’s trip to the disabled list appears to be more of an excuse to rest him than anything else. In the meantime, Yandy Diaz will take his place on the 25-man roster.

Diaz’s defensive ability in the outfield is evidently so suspect that even with the maelstrom of injuries out there, he hasn’t been asked to play in the grass at the Major League level in 2018. With the team’s designated hitter out of the lineup for a brief time, Diaz should earn enough at-bats to prove whether he can be consistent enough at the plate to make the coaching staff rethink his role in the system.

Melky Cabrera, the primary beneficiary of all the Tribe’s outfield injuries, has been underwhelming at the plate, and provides very little defensively. If the Indians are going to employ a below-average defender, shouldn’t it be someone who can at least contribute offensively?

To evaluate Diaz’s potential down the stretch in 2018, it’s better to look at his numbers from 2017 than at the 14 plate appearances he’s gotten this season. It’s still a small sample size, but in his 179 plate appearances in 2017, Diaz slashed .263/.352/.327. His on-base percentage against lefties (again, a small sample size) was .406 thanks to 13 walks in 69 plate appearances.

Moreover, in a shift-employing, pull-happy, live-and-die-by-the-homer league, 36.1 percent of Diaz’s batted balls in 2017 went to the opposite field (per FanGraphs). If that number in particular continues going forward, it makes Diaz a tough hitter to cheat against defensively.

Now compare those stats to Cabrera’s .233/.285/.319 slash line in 130 plate appearances with the Indians in 2018, and add in the fact that he’s walked just eight times all year and has just three hits in the month of August. He is on a considerably downward trend, and whether the Indians see an uptick in production from an internal option or go out and acquire some help via waivers, Cabrera should be regarded as the potential odd man out.

Next. Ranking the top 10 Players’ Weekend nicknames. dark

In any case, the injury to Encarnacion affords Diaz an opportunity to show the team that he shouldn’t have to wait until September roster expansion to earn semi-regular playing time. If he continues to contribute at the plate, the Indians will be forced to find a way to get his bat into the lineup.

facebooktwitterreddit