CLEVELAND: As the Indians wind down the regular season this week, obtaining home-field advantage in the postseason is a goal, but not the end-all, be-all objective. There are still decisions to make regarding the postseason roster, and one of them is already taking shape, giving fans a look into how the pitching staff might be handled in a short postseason start.

Indians manager Terry Francona said over the weekend that Mike Clevinger would be heading to the bullpen for the rest of the regular season and likely the duration of the postseason. That in all likelihood means that Josh Tomlin or perhaps Danny Salazar, if he can be stretched out enough, would start Game 4 of a postseason series.

Clevinger came out of the bullpen in Tuesday night’s 8-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins. In that game, Josh Tomlin lasted only 3⅔ innings. Tyler Olson entered to throw 1⅓ innings before Clevinger bridged the gap to Andrew Miller and the back-end of the bullpen. It wasn’t the end result the Indians wanted, but perhaps an insight into the blueprint of how they can use Clevinger within that group.

He had certainly pitched well enough to warrant a spot on the postseason roster regardless of role, going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in September. But his inclusion into the bullpen mix has a couple of secondary benefits as well. The first is that the Indians can afford to have a shorter leash on, say, Trevor Bauer or Tomlin if they have a rough outing, since Clevinger can throw multiple innings if needed.

“I think we feel he can be a really good weapon out of the ‘pen,” pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “We can count on him to get righties and lefties out. He can go two innings if we need to. If we have a short start like tonight, he can come in and finish the fourth and pitch the fifth to bridge that gap to our main relievers. We’ll be able to have that fifth weapon that can do some really good work in the middle of the game for us.”

The second benefit is that he can help the Indians avoid a situation like last October, when injuries led to essentially the entire pitching staff being worked to the max. The Indians were carrying only three healthy starting pitchers, and one of them (Bauer) sliced his pinkie on a drone. Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and the bullpen were also gassed. This time around, barring some injuries in the last week, the Indians can enter the postseason with more flexibility and security within the pitching staff. Clevinger has become a key piece to that.

“This is going to take a burden off a bunch of our guys,” Callaway said. “One thing that we want to be cognizant of is that, at the end of the World Series, everybody was very, very taxed. I think that having Mike Clevinger in the bullpen might ease some of that moving forward. The ultimate goal is to win the World Series. … If we go to four starters, I think that if we have Mike Clevinger in the bullpen, it gives us a better chance to complete our ultimate goal.”

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com.