SEATTLE -- The Indians are leaning toward going with a four-man rotation for the American League Division Series, but Mike Clevinger will not be one of them. Manager Terry Francona announced Saturday that Clevinger will be moved to the bullpen with the hope of giving the Tribe another high-leverage arm.
"We told him that," Francona said. "He's not been banished to the bullpen. He's been sent to help us win, and he understands why. When we get into a playoff series, we value the innings of our bullpen."
As things stand, Cleveland's top three starters are ace Corey Kluber, along with righties Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. The fourth starter is likely veteran Josh Tomlin, but Francona was not ready to show his hand about that decision. The manager also noted that there is still internal debate about the potential role for righty Danny Salazar, who could start or come out of the bullpen if he is included on the ALDS roster.
Francona said that he plans on meeting with members of the front office and coaching staff over the next several days to continue the roster discussions.
"There's a lot of stuff that we're talking about," Francona said. "I'd just keep it at that."
Clevinger will be available out of the bullpen starting on Saturday, because Francona wants to the right-hander to use the remaining regular-season games to adjust to the role change. Clevinger, who headed into Saturday with a 1.65 ERA in his past eight appearances for the Tribe, spent time in the bullpen down the stretch and in the postseason last year.
"I'm ready for the task," Clevinger said. "I was preparing for a playoff start, but this could be just as vital of a role, if not more vital than what I do if I potentially threw Game 4, or maybe not even throw Game 4. I guess we'll see how it plays out."
Due in part to an injury-riddled rotation, Cleveland's bullpen logged nearly as many innings (64 2/3) as the starting staff (69 1/3) during the 2016 postseason. Francona has a healthier pitching staff this year, but he has shown a willingness to go with abbreviated starts in favor of leveraging his relievers in an October setting. Clevinger potentially gives the manager one more multi-inning option for such situations.
"We plan on using him as a weapon," Francona said, "just like [Bryan] Shaw, Cody [Allen], Andrew [Miller]. There's a reason we did it. Now, nobody has a crystal ball, but that's the reasoning."
• Francona noted earlier this week that Miller (recently back from a right knee issue) was potentially able to work in back-to-back games during the current series in Seattle. The manager said Saturday that Miller, who logged 26 pitches in a high-stress inning on Thursday, will now complete that consecutive-games test at some point during the upcoming homestand.
• Third baseman Yandy Diaz (jammed right middle finger) remained out of the starting lineup on Saturday, marking his fourth game in a row on the bench. Francona said Diaz could have played, but the manager preferred to take a conservative approach to help the infielder recover.
• Lefty Shawn Morimando was allowed to head home to begin his offseason, but the pitcher will still receive his Major League salary and service time. Francona felt bad that he was unable to find innings for Morimando, who joined the team during September callups.
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 Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.