|Indians' Plutko steps in for injured Bauer to face Orioles|
CLEVELAND -- The loss of Trevor Bauer from the Cleveland Indians' starting rotation will be reflected for the first time Saturday afternoon when the Indians host the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of a three-game series at Progressive Field.
Bauer was placed on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 14 with a stress fracture to his right ankle. To replace Bauer in the rotation, Adam Plutko will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start against the Orioles.
The loss of Bauer s a major blow for the Indians, especially if he is unable to pitch during the postseason. Before Friday's game, Indians manager Terry Francona gave an update on Bauer.
"He's expected to be back to game activity in four to six weeks," Francona said. "We'll do what the medical people tell us to do, but that thing (the stress fracture) is going to heal when it wants to."
So into the rotation goes Plutko (4-2, 4.75 ERA), who has split the 2018 season between Cleveland and Columbus. In 14 starts at Columbus, the 26-year-old right-hander is 7-3 with an International League-leading 1.70 ERA.
With the Indians, Plutko has been used as a starter and a reliever. In six starts, he is 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA. In three relief appearances, he has no record and a 5.14 ERA.
Plutko's last start for the Indians came June 30, a 7-2 loss to Oakland in which he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, with three strikeouts and one walk.
In three starts at Progressive Field this year, Plutko is 3-0 with a 5.18 ERA. Saturday will be Plutko's first career appearance against Baltimore.
Plutko's mound opponent Saturday will be right-hander Alex Cobb (3-15, 5.31), who has had as tough a season individually as the Orioles have had as a team.
Cobb's last start was actually one of his better ones, even though it came in a 4-1 loss to Boston. Cobb pitched seven innings, holding the high-scoring Red Sox to one run and six hits, with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Cobb's last win came Aug. 1, a 7-5 decision over the New York Yankees. Cobb held New York to one run in six innings, allowing seven hits, with six strikeouts and no walks.
His last start against Cleveland came May 17, 2017, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Cobb won that game 7-4 as he pitched seven innings, giving up three run and six hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk. In five career starts against the Indians, Cobb is 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA.
One big bat in the Cleveland lineup that Cobb won't have to face on Saturday is Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians' designated hitter was placed on the disabled list Aug. 12 with a right-hand contusion and a strained left biceps. Encarnacion is eligible to be activated off the DL on Aug. 22, but that seems unlikely.
"He has no symptoms in his bicep, and mild symptoms in his hand," Francona said. "It's questionable whether he'll be activated when eligible."
Thanks to the Indians' 2-1 win on Friday, they go into Saturday's game riding a six-game winning streak. A win Saturday would match their longest winning streak of the season.
Baltimore's loss on Friday coupled with Boston's win over Tampa Bay drops the Orioles 50 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox.
The Orioles are 4-11 in August. The Indians is 12-3 in August.