Francona locks in Bauer to start Game 5

Indians expecting to continue three-man rotation through World Series

Francona locks in Bauer to start Game 5

CHICAGO -- Indians manager Terry Francona plans on staying the course with his three-man rotation. That means that right-hander Trevor Bauer remains the scheduled starter for Game 5 of the World Series against the Cubs on Sunday night.

Prior to Game 3 of the Fall Classic on Friday, which the Indians won, 1-0, to take a 2-1 Series lead, Francona confirmed that Cleveland's rotation will continue to feature Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin and Bauer for the remainder of the Series. That means that all three pitchers will start on short rest, following Tomlin's outing in Game 3 at Wrigley Field.

Game 4: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. ET air time | 8 ET game time on FOX

Kluber did not think that would be detrimental to the rotation.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

"I think with the off-days, it's not too bad," Kluber said. "Unless we go seven games, it'll be our last time throwing all year. There will be plenty of time to rest over the offseason. I don't think [Francona] would do it if he didn't think he was putting us in a good position."

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It was fair to wonder if Francona would stick with Bauer in Game 5, considering the pitcher's recent issues with a right pinkie injury. Bauer cut the finger on the night of Oct. 13, and the wound opened and bled in his start against the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series on Oct. 17, forcing him to leave the game in the first inning. Bauer's hand held up fine in his Game 2 outing against the Cubs on Wednesday.

In that World Series start, though, Bauer piled up 87 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. Not only was the righty dealing with some potential rust -- he had thrown only 21 pitches in the previous 19 days -- but the weather in Cleveland was cold (43-degree game-time temperature) during his start. Bauer was charged with two runs on six hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks before Francona turned to the bullpen.

During Thursday's workout at Wrigley, both Francona and team president Chris Antonetti indicated that the rotation order was not set in stone, and that remains true. If something drastic happened -- an injury or an extra-inning game, for example -- Cleveland could still change course. Under those circumstances, lefty Ryan Merritt or righty Danny Salazar would be candidates to start.

As of now, though, the Indians will stick with Kluber, Bauer and Tomlin. Kluber is slated to take the ball on three days' rest for Game 4 on Saturday, followed by Bauer in Game 5 on Sunday. If the Series shifts back to Cleveland, Tomlin would project as the Game 6 starter, with Kluber potentially waiting in the wings for Game 7. From Games 4-7, each starter would be working on three days' rest.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for 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.