Just who is that mystery starter behind the mask?
Why, it's Jason Stanford, the man who'll take the hill for Cleveland on Thursday!
After a few days of tight lips, Indians manager Eric Wedge finally tipped his hand Wednesday, announcing that Stanford will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to start the Indians' series finale with the Marlins on Thursday. He takes the place of Jeremy Sowers, who was optioned to Buffalo earlier this week.
Stanford made 15 appearances -- 10 starts -- with the Indians in 2003 and 2004, going 1-4 with a 3.10 ERA. He has not appeared in the big leagues since that season.
Stanford went 6-6 with a 4.01 ERA for Buffalo last season, and is 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA in 2007. In 68 2/3 innings this season, the left-hander has allowed 62 hits and 25 walks while striking out 43.
"He's done a pretty good job down there for the most part," Wedge said. "It's a good opportunity for him and hopefully he gives us a chance to win a ballgame."
Stanford's name was expected for of couple reasons. Adam Miller and Brian Slocum, the Tribe's two top options at Buffalo, are both on the disabled list. Thursday's game also coincides with Stanford's spot in Buffalo's rotation. He last pitched on June 9, picking up a no-decision against Richmond after allowing five hits, four walks and two runs in five innings.
The major consideration with Stanford is that he's out of Major League options. That means that if the Indians wanted to send him down after this start, he'd be exposed to waivers.
Wedge said the club hasn't made a decision about Stanford's status after this outing, but he made it sound unlikely that Stanford would stay with the Cleveland bullpen to avoid waivers.
"He's been a starter all year," Wedge said. "It's not something we've talked about."
Moving ahead: Jake Westbrook took another step forward in his recovery from an abdominal strain with a 67-pitch rehab start for Class A Lake County on Wednesday afternoon.
Westbrook lasted five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in a 9-6 loss to Delmarva. He struck out five and walked none. Westbrook has now made three rehab starts, allowing 14 runs (12 earned) in 8 2/3 innings.
Wedge said Westbrook, who is on pace to pitch again in five days, will need to up his pitch count before he rejoins the Indians.
"Ideally, you'd like him to build it up a little more than that," Wedge said.
Different feel: In an effort to jump-start his scuffling offense, Wedge made a few alterations to his lineup Wednesday. Sizemore was back in his customary leadoff spot, but he was followed by David Dellucci in the two-hole and Casey Blake at No. 3 -- only the second time Blake's been slotted there this season. That bumped Travis Hafner down to the No. 5 spot for the first time this season, with Victor Martinez hitting cleanup and Jhonny Peralta at No. 6.
"It's a National League game to begin with, so we're a little bit short," Wedge said. "We're just trying to spread the lineup out little bit more. We'll see what it does for us."
Down on the farm: Aaron Laffey threw six shutout innings, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out six, to lead Buffalo past Richmond, 3-0, on Tuesday. Outfielder Brad Snyder hit a solo home run for Buffalo. ... Cliff Politte, making his second rehab appearance with Double-A Akron, allowed a hit and struck out two in one inning on Tuesday. Politte, who is recovering from shoulder surgery last August, threw 17 pitches. The Aeros lost to host New Hampshire, 2-1. ... Catcher Max Ramirez, first baseman Chris Gimenez and outfielder Nathan Panther each homered as Class A Kinston pounded visiting Lynchburg, 11-2, on Tuesday. Ryan Edell allowed two runs in five innings to improve to 7-2. ... Second baseman Adam Davis' three hits and three RBIs weren't enough to carry Class A Lake County, which fell to visiting Delmarva, 9-8, on Tuesday.
On deck: The Tribe and Marlins wrap up their three-game set with a 7:05 p.m. ET contest on Thursday. Dontrelle Willis (7-5, 4.74) will oppose Stanford.
Tom Keller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.