With three weeks to go in the regular season, the Indians will add a starter back to their rotation Saturday for their playoff push.
Corey Kluber, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with a sprained middle finger on his right hand, will take the injured Justin Masterson's spot in the rotation against the Mets in the middle game of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
Indians manager Terry Francona said the team will closely monitor Kluber, who is slated to throw 75-80 pitches.
"It's exciting," Francona said. "And it's September, so we kind of have that net behind him where you don't have to ruin your bullpen. I actually think that he's going to go out there and, obviously we're going to cut it short, but I think he's going to pitch just fine."
Kluber entered the Indians' rotation in late April and pitched to a 6-5 record and 3.62 ERA in 19 starts before landing on the 15-day DL.
The right-hander threw a simulated game on Monday, which Francona was extremely encouraged by.
"The way he threw the ball in that simulated game, I was amazed," Francona said. "I'm not sure saying he held his stuff is even appropriate. He looked like he got strong. So we'll see."
The Mets will counter with left-hander Jon Niese. The 26-year-old's last start was cut short by a left leg cramp, but he did not think it would affect him on Saturday.
Niese missed nearly two months this season with a partial rotator cuff tear, but he is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five starts since returning from the DL.
Mets: Rice to have season-ending surgery
• The Mets announced Friday that reliever Scott Rice will have season-ending surgery on a sports hernia. Rice, who entered Friday with more appearances than any other pitcher in baseball, had a 3.71 ERA in 73 games, and manager Terry Collins said the left-hander had been pitching through the injury for several weeks.
With the loss of Rice, Collins said his lefties in the bullpen will be busy against the Indians this weekend.
"To be honest, when you run the lineup they got out there, they're all going to face somebody," Collins said. "I can't tell you when it's going to be. When you've got eight left-handed hitters, and I know some of them are switch-hitters, but when you've got eight left-handed hitters in the lineup, every one of those lefties is going to be busy."
The Mets also announced Friday that they selected the contract of lefty Sean Henn from Triple-A Las Vegas. Henn, who last pitched in the Majors for the Orioles in 2009, had a 3-5 record and a 2.81 ERA in 52 appearances with the 51s.
• Collins was in awe of the size of the Indians' bullpen on Friday following September callups.
"They've got 14 [relievers] I know of," Collins said. "I don't know where they're all going to sit. We could be renting out the back half of our bullpen.
"They've got a matchup for everybody on our bench tonight. They've got more relievers than we've got hitters."
Indians: Brantley home for birth of child
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley missed Friday's series opener and could miss more games while he is at home for the birth of his first child.
Francona called Brantley into his office a few hours before Friday's game and told Brantley that he was scratched from the lineup and gave him permission to return home to Florida to be with his wife.
"I said, 'We'd love to have you hit fifth, but if you miss the birth of your baby, I would have a hard time,'" Francona said. "Dealing with experience, I missed one of mine and it's not good. In this day and age, as important as baseball is to all of us, and to me more so than probably anybody ever, I still would hate to be responsible for somebody missing the birth of their child. So, he's on his way.
"I think he was struggling with should he go or not. Once I got wind of it, I just didn't think there was really a decision to make."
Francona said the baby was expected to arrive either Friday or Saturday.
With Brantley out of the lineup, outfielder Jason Kubel shifted to left field and moved into the fifth spot of Francona's batting order. Drew Stubbs was initially given the day off against Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler but started in right field and went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Niese won his only career start against the Indians, allowing three earned runs in seven innings, and Kluber has never faced the Mets.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.