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What Cleveland Indians fans should watch for in the ALCS

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Giovanny Urshela #39 is greeted by Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians prior to game one of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on October 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Giovanny Urshela #39 is greeted by Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians prior to game one of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on October 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 08: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Cleveland Indiansin the first inning at Progressive Field on June 8, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Yankees 8-4.(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /

There are three ex-Indians on the Yankees that Indians fans will probably enjoy viewing. The first is CC Sabathia, who was drafted by the Indians in 1998, and traded to Milwaukee in 2008. Sabathia was part of many Tribe moments, including playoff rotations with Bartolo Colon and then Cliff Lee toward the end.

Watching the final few appearances for the career of Sabathia may be worth the time of viewing for Indians fans. Sabathia is one of the good guys in baseball, and who will most likely be a future Hall of Famer.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Yankees also are getting great contributions from a former Indians prospect who wasn’t meeting his potential in Cleveland. Gio Urshela is having a career season in pinstripes hitting .314 with 21 home runs  and 74 RBIs. His emergence may be one the biggest reasons the Yankees were able to stay on top in the AL East while working through injuries to their star players.

Urshela was once seen as a possible starting third baseman in Cleveland. He debuted in 2015 playing alongside a 21-year-old Francisco Lindor and a 22-year-old utility infielder in Jose Ramirez. The emergence of Lindor and Ramirez offensively over the coming seasons would make Urshela the odd man out.

In 2018 Urshela was traded to Toronto and then from there traded to the Yankees. Other than unfulfilled potential in Cleveland, the Indians made out pretty well at third base, and it’s good to see Urshela fulfilling his talent albeit in pinstripes.

The third ex-Indians on the Yankee roster is Edwin Encarnacion. If you want to know why the Dolan’s are looking to slash payroll, look no further than the playoff performances from Encarnacion. He was the highest paid free agent in Indians history, and while he hit a lot of home runs in the regular season, he hasn’t translated that power to the playoffs where the Indians exited quickly in both of his seasons.

The Yankees are a typically unlikable team for Indians fans, and these three guys may not be enough to ‘cheer’ for any pinstripe performance. When in doubt, just scout players who could hit the Indians winter rumor mill.

Pending Free Agents to Watch: There are two I am going to monitor, SS Didi Gregorius and RP Dellin Betances. Gregorius is great against the Indians, and the 29-year-old SS is looking to cash in on free agency. If the Yankees sign him to a long deal, that is a big domino that impacts the future market for Lindor. If the Indians want to get out ahead of Lindor’s pending free agency, Gregorius is a very good and middle of the road option to keep the Indians competitive.

Not what you want to think about? Me neither, so lets hope Gregorius plays amazing and the Yankees jump to conclusions and lock him in long-term.

Betances, the setup man in New York, could be an affordable option to add to the back end of the bullpen. He even offers up some insurance should the Brad Hand struggles of a year ago carry over into 2020. With injuries and being over 30, the price for Betances is affordable, and the Indians typically target relief pitchers that may need a one-year deal to get their market back up.

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