Cleveland Indians: How will Tribe fill the void of the injured Franmil Reyes?

Franmil Reyes #32 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Franmil Reyes #32 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Indians, Franmil Reyes
Franmil Reyes #32 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

How will the Cleveland Indians fill the void of the injured Franmil Reyes?

One of the best hitters in the lineup for the Cleveland Indians this season has been Franmil Reyes, but an injury to the club’s slugger will force the Tribe to get creative with the batting order. While Reyes didn’t occupy a spot in the field, his bat will surely be missed and hard to replace. The injury for Reyes has been labeled as an oblique strain and while he was only placed on the 10-day Injured List, reports are showing he could miss in the range of five to seven weeks.

At the time of the injury, Reyes was slashing .257/.316/.576 for the Tribe, blasting 11 home runs with nine doubles, two triples and 29 RBI over his 40 games played. While his batting average is hopefully replaceable, his power and threat in the middle of the lineup will be hard to make up in his absence.

When Cleveland placed Reyes on the 10-day IL, they also moved Roberto Perez to the 60-day IL to create room on the 40-man and active rosters to get surging prospect Owen Miller up to Cleveland. While Miller was impressive in Columbus, it’s still not clear if he can be the one fill the role completely. However, he does present a very versatile option that could allow the Cleveland Indians to play around with the lineup.

In his first game in the big leagues, Miller filled the exact role of Reyes in the lineup as the designated hitter while moving into the field for his second game. With the ability to play pretty much anywhere in the infield, Miller will allow the Tribe to do a few different things that Reyes didn’t. For example, against the Tigers Miller played third base with Jose Ramirez shifting to the DH role. The move kept Ramirez in the lineup while also giving him a bit of a break, something that normally wouldn’t be possible.

That option of placing Miller in the field to keep a bat in the lineup and give a fielder a bit of a break in the DH role could be used at second for Cesar Hernandez as well. The same simple option could be presented in the outfield, especially with it becoming a bit crowded out there with Josh Naylor, Eddie Rosario, Jordan Luplow and Harold Ramirez all healthy.

While Miller presents a lot of versatility, he won’t be able to fully replace Reyes as a threat in the lineup. With Columbus, Miller had a slash line of .406/.457/.609 which was better than Reyes, but where he lacks is power. Miller only had two home runs and five doubles over 16 games with the Clippers.

Cleveland Guardians
Cleveland Guardians /

Cleveland Guardians

If the Cleveland Indians are looking for a power bat to help replace Reyes, there might be an option already on the 40-man roster in Bobby Bradley. Bradley would take away the position versatility a bit and would decrease the average, but his six home runs this year could help replace the power threat.

I wouldn’t imagine that a Bradley call up would necessarily result in Miller being sent down. With Miller’s added flexibility, Yu Chang could end up being the odd man out. Miller and Bradley replace the positional value of Chang and both offer a better offensive option. In 27 games, Chang is slashing just .150/.188/.217 so sending him down makes sense. Additionally, that would free up his platoon role at first base that could allow Bradley to play in the field and keep the DH spot as a rotating half-day off for others.

It should be noted that we aren’t saying that Bradley and Miller can replace Reyes. It’s rather clear that the role of Reyes can’t be fully filled. However, if there is a bright spot it is the position flexibility that could result. Miller has been chomping at the bit to debut after a hot start in Columbus and Bradley still has fewer than 50 major league at-bats, all of which came almost two years ago.

Being relatively early in the season, this could allow some lineup experimentation until Reyes can get back to being healthy. Reyes’ offensive production will surely be missed, but perhaps there’s a player that emerges during his absence that could play a big role down the stretch for the Cleveland Indians.

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