Tribe Alumni Set to Face Off in World Series
Bob Toth | On 22, Oct 2019
At least two former members of the Cleveland Indians organization will become World Series champions over the course of the next two weeks as the Houston Astros host the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Fall Classic, set to kick off Tuesday night, October 22, at 8:08 PM ET.
The playoffs have been rife with former friends of the feather as eight of the ten teams to reach bonus baseball in October have had ex-Indians on the roster. In the senior circuit, the Wild Card losing Milwaukee Brewers had pitchers Matt Albers and Drew Pomeranz on the roster throughout the year. The National League Division Series saw the Atlanta Braves (pitcher Josh Tomlin, third baseman Josh Donaldson, and spring invitee Matt Joyce) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (pitcher Rich Hill and manager Dave Roberts) exit. The St. Louis Cardinals and reliever Andrew Miller were defeated in four straight in the National League Championship Series by the pennant-winning Washington Nationals.
Making their first World Series appearance in franchise history, the Nationals have a pair of former Indians on the roster in catcher Yan Gomes and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. Both saw time with the Indians in the postseason previously and Gomes was a member of the 2016 American League pennant winning club in Cleveland.
On the American League side of the playoff brackets, two teams (Minnesota and Oakland) did not have a former Indians player on the roster, although Minnesota’s front office has been heavily touched by Tribe influence through the work of executive vice president Derek Falvey. Oakland was eliminated in the Wild Card game by the Tampa Bay Rays, which brought three players with ties to Cleveland (third baseman Yandy Diaz, reliever Oliver Drake, and former prospect Joey Wendle). Minnesota was swept by the New York Yankees, which had ex-Indians pitcher CC Sabathia, DH Edwin Encarnacion, and third baseman Gio Urshela in tow. The Rays were knocked off by the Astros, which went on to defeat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series with some help from former Tribe outfielder Michael Brantley. Relievers Joe Smith and Hector Rondon (who pitched in the minors with the Indians) will join Brantley on Houston’s 25-man World Series roster.
Five of those former Tribe players remain in postseason play, with Brantley, Rondon, and Smith suiting up for the host Astros on Tuesday night, while Cabrera and Gomes will represent the Nationals.
Brantley is second to only Jose Altuve for most Houston hits this postseason with eleven in eleven games. He has a homer and a pair of RBI and has drawn five walks to boast a .262/.340/.333 slash. In addition, he made one of the plays of the postseason with a diving catch in Game 6 that he turned into a double play. As for the pair of Houston pitchers still in action, the two-time Indian Smith has allowed just one run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts in five and one-third innings over six games (1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, .118 batting average against). Rondon has worked just one-third of an inning in two games this postseason, giving up a run on a hit with one strikeout. He is the only one of the five with a World Series victory to his credit – he was a member of the Chicago Cubs team that crushed Cleveland’s dreams in 2016.
Gomes, splitting time behind the plate for Washington with Kurt Suzuki, has hit .308 with three RBI in six games of work. The 33-year-old and 13-year veteran Cabrera has just one hit in nine at bats for the Nationals in the playoffs in his fifth year of postseason action.
Best of luck to the former Tribesmen playing for a chance at a ring and baseball immortality as America’s Pastime plays out its final games of an entertaining 2019 postseason.
Photo: Will Newton/Getty Images