INDIANAPOLIS – With the dust finally settled following the completion of the wild card games and division series in both the American and National League, four former Tribe players are moving on to the championship series round. One local/in-state product has advanced as well (noted in italics). Those five players are mentioned below, along with their performances through the playoffs thus far.
LHP Justin Wilson – Acquired by the Cubs from the Tigers in a July deadline deal this summer, Wilson made just one appearance for Chicago in its division series with Washington. The southpaw recorded the final two outs in the top of the ninth of Game 4 – a 5-0 victory for the Nationals – retiring Daniel Murphy on a lineout and Anthony Rendon on a fly ball to center. Wilson could have an expanded role in the NLCS against Los Angeles’ left-handed hitting quartet of Cody Bellinger, Curtis Granderson, Corey Seager and Chase Utley.
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 season with the Cubs, all of which Chicago has appeared in the NLCS. 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.
In the NLDS against the Nats, Schwarber made starts in Game 1 and 3, going a combined 0-for-4 with one walk and three strikeouts. His two-error blunder on a fly ball in Game 3 nearly cost the Cubs, but he redeemed himself with a pinch-hit single off the right-field wall in the seventh inning in the winner-take-all Game 5. Schwarber then took third on a single up the middle and scored on a fielder’s choice, giving Chicago its ninth and decisive run in the 9-8 final.
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.
In the NLDS against Arizona, Watson pitched in Games 1 and 2, recording a combined ERA of 18.00 (2 ER/1.0 IP). He earned a hold in the Dodgers’ 9-5 Game 1 triumph, allowing a single in one-third of an inning. In Game 2 he retired both batters he faced in the sixth before surrendering singles to Jake Lamb and Ketel Marte in the seventh. He then departed ahead of Brandon Drury‘s three-run homer off Brandon Morrow. Watson will get situational opportunities against the Cubs and could duel with Anthony Rizzo, Jon Jay or the aforementioned Schwarber.
He excelled with a 3-3 record and 2.36 ERA in 26 games (one start) for the Tribe in 2011.
LHP Francisco Liriano – Liriano is a 33-year-old veteran southpaw pitching in his fifth postseason. He went 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 20 games after being acquired by Houston from Toronto at the July trade deadline.
He pitched in Games 1 and 3 of the ALDS against Boston, going 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA (1 ER/0.2 IP). In Houston’s series-opening 8-2 win, Liriano sat down the only batter he faced, Mitch Moreland, on a groundout to second. In Boston’s 10-3 Game 3 victory, it was Liriano who suffered the loss after giving up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Rafael Devers during a three-run fourth inning. Liriano will be limited to situational matchups against the Yankees, likely dealing with left-handed batters Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird.
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 – The right-hander got the start for Houston in Game 4 of the ALDS at Boston, a 5-4 comeback win for the Astros. He was charged with two runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings pitched in a no-decision. He will likely start Game 4 of the ALCS for Houston at New York. If the series reaches a sixth or seventh game, he could come out of the bullpen as well.
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.
He won a career-high 14 games in 25 starts while recording a 3.62 ERA in the regular season for Houston.
The Yankees are the only team remaining without a former Tribe player or in-state product on their active roster in the 2017 MLB Postseason.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.