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Cleveland Indians leaning toward starting Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger in first 3 ALDS games

CHICAGO – Although things are subject to change, it appears the Indians will start Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger in the first three games of the ALDS against Houston. The best-of-five-series begins Oct. 5 at Minute Maid Park.

Trevor Bauer could start Game 4 on Oct. 9, if necessary, at Progressive Field or he could be available in the bullpen. Bauer is recovering from a stress fracture in his right fibula that he suffered on Aug. 11.

The Indians open the final regular season series of the season on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals. Josh Tomlin will start Thursday followed by Clevinger (12-8, 3.07), Kluber (20-7, 2.83) and Carrasco (16-10, 3.42). Bauer (12-6, 2.26) will relieve Carrasco on Sunday.

Manager Terry Francona said he talked with Bauer on Wednesday after he pitched four innings on Tuesday night against the White Sox. All he would say about the meeting was, “we need to get through the season first because you don’t want to announce something and then have to undo it. But we did give him some guidance in what we’re looking to do, just so he can prepare and things like that.”

Francona indicated that Clevinger (12-8, 3.07) would start Game 3 on Oct. 8 at Progressive Field, but it was subject to change.

The ALDS matchup between the Indians and Astros became a reality late Tuesday night. After Houston beat Toronto to reduce its magic number to one, Seattle beat the A’s in extra innings to clinch the AL West for the Astros. They have home-field advantage of the Indians because they won the season series, 4-3.

The series will match the best two starting rotations in the AL. Houston is ranked first at 72-36 with a 3.20 ERA. The Indians are second at 73-43 with a 3.43 ERA.

“They’re good, they’re really good,” said Francona. “The one thing I’ve been impressed with – when we’ve played them and when I’ve watched them – is that they play start to finish really well. Even when we’ve beaten them it’s been like, ‘Man, they’re coming.’

“That’s why they’ve been fun to play because they’re talented and they keep playing. They present a lot of issues, but it’s fun to play them because they’re so good.”

Houston, the defending World Series champion, has a record of 100-68. The Indians are 88-69.

Justin Verlander is one of the key starters in the Houston rotation. He’s a familiar foe to the Indians because he spent most of his career with the Tigers before they traded him to the Astros last year in August. The Indians have not faced him since.

“There’s a pretty good chance we will now,” said Francona.

Verlander (16-9, 2.60), Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.92), Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.75) and Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.18) are Houston’s top four starters.

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