CHICAGO -- The Indians have announced their planned rotation for the remainder of the World Series, but everything is subject to change. Team president Chris Antonetti made that clear during Thursday night's workout at Wrigley Field on the eve of Game 3 against the Cubs.
"There's nothing written in ink. Very light pencil. Erasable," Antonetti said. "We've made adjustments continuously, not only during the postseason, but during the regular season. [We'll do] whatever we can do to try to win that next game."
Josh Tomlin is scheduled to start Game 3 against the Cubs tonight and ace Corey Kluber is slated to return on three days' rest for Game 4 on Saturday. After that, Cleveland could tweak its rotation, depending on what happens over the course of the next two games. Right now, Trevor Bauer, Tomlin and Kluber are each lined up to start Games 5, 6 and 7 (in that order) on short rest, if the Series goes the distance.
Merritt worked 4 1/3 shutout innings in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays, but he was a better matchup against Toronto. The Cubs ranked third overall in the Majors this season with a .450 slugging percentage off left-handers. Salazar, while an All-Star this season, is just returning from a right forearm issue and is not able to handle a full starter's workload. At most, he could log around 70 pitches.
Indians manager Terry Francona said the plan for now is to stick with the three-man staff of Kluber, Bauer and Tomlin.
"We would change it if somebody got hurt," Francona said. "That's part of the reason we have Merritt and Danny, so we can cover a game if we need to."
Bauer, who dealt with a lacerated right pinkie earlier in these playoffs, logged 3 2/3 innings in his return to the rotation during Game 2 against the Cubs on Wednesday. Given that Bauer had thrown just 21 pitches over the previous 19 days, and the fact that it was 43 degrees in Cleveland, the righty labored with his command. After 87 pitches, Francona turned to his bullpen.
"His routine was pretty interrupted and then it was cold," Francona said. "You saw even [Cubs starter Jake] Arrieta was having a tough time."
"He competed as well as he could," added Antonetti, referring to Bauer. "He obviously didn't have the command that he otherwise hoped to have in order for him to be successful. Some really, really good at-bats by the Cubs' hitters. They fouled off a lot of tough pitches. They deserve a lot of credit."
Salazar entered Game 2 with Cleveland trailing, 5-0, in the sixth inning. The game did not unfold how the Indians would have hoped, but the circumstances did allow Salazar to shake off some rust after not having pitched since Sept. 9. In his one inning, the hard-throwing righty walked two, but kept Chicago off the board.
Francona was happy to get Salazar's first appearance back out of the way, but the manager is still leaning toward keeping the righty in the 'pen.
"I would prefer him in the bullpen, but he could [be an option to start]," Francona said. "We can talk about it. Part of it is, you [could] start a lefty and then maybe you bring in a righty behind him. I don't think that's going to happen, but I think to Chris' point, you always reserve the right to do what's in our best interest."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.