The Indians went with Rajai Davis' speed over the security blanket of Erik Gonzalez for the last spot on their ALDS roster. Manager Terry Francona announced the move on Thursday during the Tribe's workout at Minute Maid Park.
"No one has a crystal ball, but we went with who had a better chance to impact a series and we felt like Raj had a better chance," Francona said. "It's nothing against Gonzy. But if Gonzy gets in that meant something went wrong.
"If something goes wrong, we might be kicking ourselves, but I think we felt like the risk is worth the reward."
Gonzalez, just out of MLB concussion protocol, is hitting .265 (36 for 136) with one homer and 16 RBI. He's stolen three bases.
Davis is hitting .224 (44 for 196) with one homer, six RBI and 21 steals in 28 attempts. He's scored 33 runs compared to 17 by Gonzalez.
Here's what the unofficial roster looks like:
— Starting pitchers (three): Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger.
— Bullpen (eight): Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, Cody Allen, Dan Otero, Adam Cimber, Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez and Brad Hand.
— Infield (six): Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Yonder Alonso, Josh Donaldson, Yandy Diaz and Edwin Encarnacion.
— Outfield (six): Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera and Rajai Davis.
— Catchers (two): Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.
Francona said the choice of Cimber and Otero in the bullpen were based on Houston's predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. Francona's other right-handed choices were Josh Tomlin, Adam Plutko and Neil Ramirez.
On Tuesday, Francona said starters Bauer and Bieber would open in the bullpen. On Wednesday, he announced the rest of the bullpen.
"We're trying to make our bullpen thicker or bigger early (in the series) and we may use Carlos Carrasco later in the series," said Francona. "It depends on how much he pitches."
Kluber will start Game 1 on Friday followed by Carrasco in Game 2 on Saturday. Clevinger will pitch Game 3 on Monday at Progressive Field.
The Indians acquired Cimber and Hand in July from San Diego. Hand has done a good job in the closer's role, but Cimber, a submarining right-hander, has not pitched as well as he did with the Padres.
Cimber went 0-3 with a 4.05 ERA in 28 games for the Tribe. He struck out seven and walked seven in 20 innings. In San Diego, he went 3-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 42 games. He struck out 51 and walked 10 in 48 1/3 innings.
"In San Diego he was pitching full innings," Francona said. "When he came here, he didn't finish innings because we had so many lefties. I think that hurt him at times.
"He's always one pitch from a double play, especially against the right-handers,” he added. “Hopefully, he can keep the ball in the infield against Houston's tough right-handed hitters."
Right-handers are hitting .239 (44 for 184) with three homers against Cimber. Lefties are hitting .329 (24 for 73) with two homers.
Otero (2-1, 5.22, one save), like Cimber, has had an inconsistent season. He did post a 2.89 ERA in September. Right-handers are hitting .259 (38 for 147) and lefties .337 (31 for 92) against him. Last year Otero had a better season but didn't make the ALDS roster.
Five Indians will be making their first postseason appearance — Hand, Cimber, Bieber, Alonso and Diaz. Last year the Indians considered adding Diaz to the ALDS roster but didn't do it. The decision backfired when Edwin Encarnacion twisted his right ankle in Game 2 and didn't play again until Game 5.
Diaz hit .312 (34 for 109) with five doubles, two triples, one homer and 15 RBI in 39 games. He posted a .797 OPS after spending most of the season at Class AAA Columbus.