The Guardians reached the 90-win plateau with Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals, but their sights will be set on a bigger target come Friday when they welcome the No. 6 seed in the American League for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
That best-of-three series will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary), with all three games being played at Progressive Field. But how might the roster that the Guardians take into that series look?
There are a few considerations, though some questions were likely answered on Sunday after Cleveland made a series of roster moves, most notably the addition of catcher Bo Naylor and the designation of assignment of veteran reliever Bryan Shaw.
Here's a look at how the roster might look entering Friday's Game 1. As a reminder, teams can adjust their playoff roster between each round.
Catchers (3): Austin Hedges, Luke Maile, Bo Naylor
The Guardians made Bo Naylor the 17th rookie to make his major league debut in Saturday's game. He figures to have a clear path to the starting catching job at some point down the line as the team's top prospect at that position.
In terms of his possible inclusion on the playoff roster, it's largely about situational flexibility. Austin Hedges and Luke Maile are known more for their defensive capabilities, on which the team puts a premium. But late in games that are tied or if the Guardians are trailing, the team wants to be proactive with pinch-hitting or pinch-running. Having a trio of catchers available affords them some more freedom to do that.
Naylor also brings an expanded skillset, including better offense, compared to the other two. He put together a 20-20 (home runs and stolen bases) season in the minor leagues this season.
Infielders (6): Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez, Jose Ramirez, Amed Rosario, Gabriel Arias, Owen Miller
The Guardians starting infield is set. Arias and Miller bring positional depth, as both can play multiple positions, including first base. Tyler Freeman was optioned to Triple-A Columbus, as a third utility infielder was largely redundant.
Outfielders (5): Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez, Myles Straw, Will Brennan, Will Benson
Kwan, Gonzalez and Straw will be in the lineup in some fashion. All three have had terrific offensive months.
Brennan could see a role in either right field or in the designated hitter spot (with Gonzalez in the other) against right-handed starting pitchers. Benson is largely there for depth.
Starting pitchers (3): Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill
Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie will be ready to take the mound in Games 1 and 2, respectively. Game 3, if necessary, will fall to Cal Quantrill. If the Guardians win the first two games and advance to the American League Division Series, where the New York Yankees will likely be waiting, Quantrill could start Game 1.
Aaron Civale isn't needed on the Wild Card Series roster, as he's been aligned to start Game 1 of the ALDS if the Guardians advance but need to play all three games.
Bullpen (9): Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, Trevor Stephan, Sam Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos, Eli Morgan, Nick Sandlin, Zach Plesac, Kirk McCarty
The first seven spots in the playoff bullpen are set. The final two spots, if the Guardians carry 12 pitchers instead of 13, come down to three options between Zach Plesac, Kirk McCarty and Cody Morris.
Plesac returned from the insured list to start Saturday's game, but he'll now transition to the bullpen for a potential role as a reliever for the postseason. McCarty would offer the bullpen a second lefty and has a 2.28 ERA in the second half of the season. Morris has posted a 1.99 ERA in 22⅔ innings. It's entirely possible Plesac could be left off the playoff roster in favor of both Morris and McCarty.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Guardians playoff roster projection for AL Wild Card Series