Ten Former Indians Destined for MLB Postseason Play

Lefty specialists headline former Tribe players in 2017 playoffs

Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Rajai Davis and Charlie Morton are all virtual locks to be on 2017 MLB postseason rosters. (Photos by Bill Gentry)

By Cheyne Reiter / Indianapolis Indians | October 3, 2017 10:03 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - As many as 10 former Indianapolis Indians players are headed to the 2017 MLB Playoffs, which begin on Tuesday night with the American League Wild Card Game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. An additional nine local/in-state products could find themselves on postseason rosters as well. Those nine players are noted in italics.




LHP Oliver Perez - The 36-year-old veteran pitcher has found his niche as a reliever over the latter part of his career, which began in 1999 in the San Diego Padres farm system. Perez pitched parts of 2005 and 2006 with Indianapolis, going 1-4 with a 6.64 ERA in nine starts combined. He has one save and a 4.64 ERA in 50 relief appearances for the Nationals this season, his 15th in the big leagues.


1B/LF Adam Lind - The Muncie, Ind. native hit .303 (81-for-267) with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 116 games for the Nats this year. The Nats are Lind's fourth major league organization (also: Toronto, Milwaukee, Seattle), and he belted his 200th career home run on Sept. 23 against the New York Mets. Lind attended Highland High School in Anderson, Ind.


LHP Justin Wilson - Acquired by the Cubs from the Tigers in a July deadline deal this summer, Wilson will likely be tasked with situational matchups throughout the postseason. The 30-year-old spent the entire 2011 and 2012 seasons with Indy and was a key rotation member for the Tribe. In 59 career games (46 starts) for the Indians, Wilson went 19-14 with a 3.95 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 260 innings pitched. He combined for 65 appearances between Detroit and Chicago this year, going 4-4 with 13 saves and a 3.41 ERA.


OF Kyle Schwarber - The former Indiana Hoosier is in his third big league campaign with the Cubs and is hoping to repeat his abbreviated postseason success from 2016. He established career highs in nearly every offensive category this year, totaling 30 home runs and 59 RBI despite a midseason demotion to Triple-A Iowa.


LHP Tony Watson - The 32-year-old Sioux City, Iowa native was acquired by the Dodgers from the Pirates just ahead of the trade deadline this summer. He lost his job as closer with Pittsburgh but returned to form for L.A., posting a 2-1 record and 2.70 ERA in 24 appearances. He excelled with a 3-3 record and 2.36 ERA in 26 games (one start) for the Tribe in 2011.


LHP Jorge De La Rosa - A 14-year major league veteran, De La Rosa could be the first former Tribe player to appear in the 2017 postseason. De La Rosa may pitch against his former club, the Colorado Rockies, and be tasked with a lefty-on-lefty matchup against 2017 NL Batting Champion Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez. De La Rosa is the Rockies' all-time wins leader with 86. He went 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 65 relief appearances for the D-backs this year. His lone season with the Tribe came in 2004, Indy's last of a five-year run as Milwaukee's top affiliate. He registered a 5-6 record and 4.52 ERA in 20 starts for the Indians.


OF Jeremy Hazelbaker - Despite a .346 average in 52 big league at-bats this season, the Muncie, Ind.-born Hazelbaker remains a longshot to make Arizona's postseason roster. The 30-year-old is the first and only big leaguer to graduate from Wapahani High School in Selma, Ind., 70 miles northeast of Victory Field. He played collegiately at Ball State University.


OF A.J. Pollock - A first-round selection by the D-backs out of the University of Notre Dame, Pollock will man centerfield for Arizona throughout the playoffs. After winning 69 games a year ago, in large part because of the absence of Pollock due to an elbow injury, Arizona rebounded and won 93 games this summer. They'll host Colorado in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night at Chase Field.


LHP Kyle Freeland - The 24-year-old started in Colorado's regular season finale, meaning he'll be left off the Wild Card roster, but expect the southpaw to be added if the Rockies beat the D-backs and face the Dodgers. Freeland was selected by the Rockies as the eighth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Evansville. He went 11-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 33 games (28 starts) for Colorado in his rookie season.


RHP Pat Neshek - Now in his 11th major league season, the 36-year-old Neshek has been one of baseball's most dominant relievers in 2017, going 5-3 with a 1.59 ERA in 71 appearances between Philadelphia and Colorado. The sidearm/submarining righty earned his second National League All-Star bid and will likely pitch in his fifth career postseason (also: 2006 - Minnesota, 2012 - Oakland, 2014 - St. Louis, 2015 - Houston). He played collegiately at Butler University in Indianapolis.




RHP Blaine BoyerThe 36-year-old Boyer went 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the Tribe in 2011. Since then, he's pitched in the big leagues for the Mets (2011), Padres (2014), Twins (2015-16) and Red Sox. He notched a 1-1 record and 4.35 ERA in 32 games for Boston this year but was tagged for four runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief in his final regular season appearance against Houston, Boston's divisional round opponent.


OF Rajai Davis - After hitting the home run heard 'round the world last October for Cleveland in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, Davis will likely be back in the postseason for a third time. He also reached the postseason in 2014 with Detroit. Davis batted .295 (176-for-596) with 72 stolen bases in 153 games combined for the Tribe in 2006 and 2007.


INF Brock Holt - The 29-year-old utilityman hit .200 (28-for-140) in 64 games for the Red Sox this year and is on the outside looking in at a postseason roster spot with Boston. Holt played in just 24 games for the Tribe in 2012 but left his mark, batting .432 (41-for-95) while posting a 1.013 OPS and earning a promotion to Pittsburgh.


INF Sam Travis - A former college teammate of Schwarber at Indiana University and second-round pick of the Red Sox in 2014, Travis debuted in the bigs this season and hit .263 (20-for-76) in 33 contests. He, like Holt and Boyer, may not make the cut for Boston's 25-man playoff roster.


LHP Francisco Liriano - A 33-year-old veteran southpaw, Liriano could be one of two lefty specialists for the Astros in this year's playoffs. Liriano went 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 20 games after being acquired by Houston from Toronto at the July trade deadline. He appeared in a Tribe uniform briefly in both 2013 and 2014, posting a 2-0 record and 2.45 ERA in four starts combined.


RHP Charlie Morton - If the ALDS between Houston and Boston reaches Game 4, it may be Morton who is called upon to start for the Astros. The 33-year-old debuted in the majors in 2008 with Atlanta and then pitched for Pittsburgh from 2009-2015. During that time, he made a total of 22 starts with Indianapolis over five separate campaigns (2009-10, 2012-13, 2015), going 5-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 127 innings of work. He is one of four Tribe players since the turn of the century to play for Indy in five separate seasons, joining Ryan Doumit, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. This year with Houston he won a career-high 14 games in 25 starts while recording a 3.62 ERA.


C Erik Kratz - Acquired as September catcher insurance for the Yankees, the 37-year-old Kratz is an unlikely recipient of a postseason roster spot with New York. Kratz was a mainstay behind and at the plate for the Tribe during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, launching 20 home runs and 52 doubles with 84 RBI in 163 games. He made his MLB debut with the Pirates in July 2010.


RHP Kyle Gibson - Born in nearby Greenfield, Ind. and a product of Greenfield Central High School, Gibson was selected by the Twins as the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. A well-timed demotion to Triple-A Rochester paid dividends for the fifth-year pro this season. After going 6-8 with a 6.08 ERA through his first 18 starts this year, the righty started for the Red Wings at Victory Field on July 27 and tossed five shutout innings while yielding just one hit. He then returned to Minnesota where the Twins won in nine of his final 11 starts, a stretch in which he went 6-2 with a 3.55 ERA.


RHP Aaron Slegers - The 6-foot-10 Indiana University alum was a fifth-round selection of the Twins in 2013. He anchored the Hoosiers' staff during IU's run to the 2013 College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Slegers won an International League-most 15 games in 24 starts for Rochester this year, ultimately earning him his first callup to the big leagues. He went 0-1 with a 6.46 ERA in four games (three starts) for the Twins, leaving him as a likely spectator for Minnesota's playoff run.


The Cleveland Indians, the defending AL Champs, are the only 2017 playoff team that will not feature a former Indy Indian or local/in-state product.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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