KANSAS CITY -- The Indians felt they would have had what general manager Mark Shapiro called a "significant strategic advantage" in the American League Division Series if they could have won the right to pick the eight-day scenario that begins Wednesday. After all, in that scenario, they would have had the opportunity to pitch dual aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona twice on regular rest, if the series went the five-game distance. But just because the club landed the seven-day series against the Yankees that begins Thursday doesn't mean Shapiro views it as a strategic disadvantage.
"It's a normal playoff scenario," Shapiro said. "Any other year, there wouldn't have even been a choice. Obviously, we wanted to play for every advantage possible. But we're going into a normal playoff scenario with home-field advantage. That's a good thing." Assistant GM Chris Antonetti heard this as he walked by and joked, "In other words, we're panicked." Hardly. The Indians still feel comfortable with the situation, which will force them to carry 11 pitchers, rather than 10, and start Paul Byrd in Game 4, rather than Sabathia a second time. "I feel good about all four of our starters," manager Eric Wedge said. "They've done a great job for us. They're guys we can count on. You know what you're going to get from 'em. That's what you're looking for." The comfort comes from the numbers. Tribe starters led the Majors in workload carried this season, with 1,021 1/3 innings pitched this season. Third starter Jake Westbrook has a 2.94 ERA in his past 12 starts, and the veteran Byrd won 15 games this season. The team's overall starter ERA was 4.19, which was the best mark in the AL. The Yankees, meanwhile, have a starter ERA of 4.58, ranking eighth in the league. Byrd has pitched more complete games (two) than their entire team (one).
Byrd, though, will enter the playoffs coming off one of his roughest months of the season. He went 1-3 with a 6.83 ERA over his past five starts. Obviously, the Indians would have felt a lot more comfortable with Sabathia pitching Game 4 on four days' rest. "It's not what we would have chosen, but you've got to play the hand that's dealt," Byrd said. "I'm excited to get the ball. I've pitched in the playoffs with two different teams and know how much fun it can be, so I'm really looking forward to that. New York's a great place to play, too. There's a lot of energy and intensity. It doesn't get any better." It appears Byrd will get the ball in Game 4, regardless of the scenario. The Indians would be leery of starting Sabathia on three days' rest, even if they're facing elimination in that game. "I'm certain that if we faced some type of situation, whether it be finishing off the series or facing elimination, it could be something we consider," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "But we can't put all of it ahead of everyone's health and long-term future. Everything would have to fall into place." Their ideal playoff scenario didn't fall into place, but, Antonetti's joking aside, the Indians aren't fretting. Roster set: Now that they know who they're playing and when they're playing, the Indians have decided what their postseason roster will be. They're just not announcing it yet. Because the club might have strategic benefits to withholding that information, Shapiro said he'll likely wait until either the Tuesday or Wednesday workouts to divulge it. "But it's safe to say we're going to continue to go with the guys that got us this far," he said. Rosters don't have to be submitted until 10 a.m. ET the day of the first game. Beyond the 25 guys on the active roster, Wedge said four or five additional players will travel with the club, in case of an injury. "That's warranted," Wedge said. "It's the right thing to do." Fresh Fausto: The Indians did not seriously entertain the thought of starting Carmona on three days' rest Sunday to have him available on his usual four days' rest for Friday's Game 2. Carmona, after all, has already logged a career-high 215 innings. He'll pitch Friday on eight days' rest. "When it comes to Fausto, I think the rest is going to be good for him," Wedge said. "We'll still be able to keep him fresh on the side, and I don't think the downtime is going to do him any harm." Bye bye, Buddy: Sunday was Buddy Bell's last day as the manager of the Royals. Bell was Wedge's bench coach for 2 1/2 seasons before taking over the Royals gig. "Buddy is as special to me as anyone in the game," Wedge said. "Not just in baseball, but as a person. He exemplifies everything that's right about this game. I couldn't begin to tell you how much I learned from him. I think I got about 20 years out of him in 2 1/2 years. I probably drove him crazy in the process." Given Bell's passion, Wedge wasn't surprised to see his old friend tossed from Saturday night's game for arguing a call in the eighth inning. Nor would Wedge be surprised to see Bell get back into managing at some point. "But he's earned a much-deserved rest," Wedge said. "I'm happy for him that he's going to get to spend more time with his family." Tribe tidbits: The Indians will hold their "Rally Monday" event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Gateway Plaza, between Jacobs Field and Quicken Loans Arena. Michael Stanley and the Resonators will perform. ... Even though the Indians had nothing left to play for Sunday, Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Blake all remained in the starting lineup. On deck: The Indians will take Monday off before beginning workouts for the ALDS. The first workout will be held Tuesday afternoon at Jacobs Field. The start time for Game 1 of the ALDS at The Jake is yet to be determined. Sabathia (19-7, 3.21 ERA) will start that game opposite right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (19-7, 3.70).
American League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||6:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||3 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||9:30 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||6:30 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||6:30 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||6 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.