Cleveland Indians

Indians getting Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco back for final push

They’ve erased a double-digit division deficit, and now the Cleveland Indians are in line to get Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco back soon.

On June 2, the Cleveland Indians trailed the Minnesota Twins by 11.5 games in the AL Central. Even as late as June 16, they trailed by 11 games. But they are 36-16 since that latter point, and now trail the Twins by a half-game after briefly taking over first place by the same margin with a win Monday night. The Indians currently hold the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Two time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber has not pitched since being hit by a comebacker and breaking his forearm on May 1. Carlos Carrasco has not pitched since May 30, as he was sidelined by a medical issue later revealed to be chronic myeloid leukemia. And the Indians also traded Trevor Bauer just prior to the deadline, in a deal that brought lineup reinforcements Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes.

Kluber made his second rehab start on Tuesday night, throwing 60 pitches over four innings for Double-A Akron. Manager Terry Francona talked about the outing on Wednesday.

Velocity started to tick up a bit (Tuesday) and by all accounts he looked kind of like Kluber. He’ll pitch Sunday in Charlotte (in Triple-A).

With the idea he will throw 75-80 pitches in his outing on Sunday, Kluber may be ready to come back to the Indians for his next start.

There has been a faint idea all along that Carrasco would return to pitch this season. The first step is coming on Friday, as he has been cleared to throw to live hitters.

Assuming all goes well when he faces hitters, a rehab assignment would be the next step for Carrasco. The Indians are sure to exercise great caution though, so they may have him face hitters in a more controlled setting a couple times before sending him out to the minors. In any case, a return when rosters expand in September is on the table.

Shane Bieber has become a Cy Young candidate this year. Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale have filled in admirably in recent weeks, as Mike Clevinger was also sidelined for a while but has returned to action and pitched fairly well.

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The Indians were always going to have the pitching advantage over the Twins,and that has held up through injuries. If Kluber and Carrasco return and pitch close to their prior form down the stretch, that advantage will become more pronounced as Cleveland tries to finish the comeback job and win the division again.

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