CLEVELAND -- The Indians are down one starter, but are bringing another back into the fold.
Right-hander Corey Kluber was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday for a start against the Mets in the second tilt of the current three-game Interleague series. Kluber will slide into the rotation slot vacated by sinkerballer Justin Masterson, who is dealing with a strained left oblique.
Tribe manager Terry Francona is eager to see Kluber back on the mound.
"It's exciting," Francona said. "And it's September, so we kind of have that net behind him where you don't have to ruin your bullpen. I actually think that he's going to go out there and, obviously we're going to cut it short, but I think he's going to pitch just fine."
Kluber, who has been shelved since Aug. 6 due to a sprained middle finger on his right hand, is not stretched out to handle a full workload, but has been cleared to throw around 75-80 pitches. Francona said the team will closely monitor the right-hander's outing, keeping a variety of factors in mind while determining the proper time to lift him in favor of the bullpen.
Francona said Kluber's simulated game on Monday was extremely encouraging.
"The way he threw the ball in that simulated game, I was amazed," Francona said. "I'm not sure saying he held his stuff is even appropriate. He looked like he got strong. So we'll see."
Thanks to September's expanded roster rules, the Indians are currently carrying 15 relievers (11 right-handers and four left-handers) in their bullpen. Two of the pitchers in the 'pen, Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco, are starters by trade and can log multiple innings as long-relief options.
"The idea is not just to cover [innings], but to win," Francona said.
In 21 appearances this season, Kluber has gone 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 122 innings, in which he has compiled 116 strikeouts, 26 walks and a .258 opponents' batting average.