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Indians look for good start vs. Athletics

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians, whose highly regarded but so far underachieving rotation continues to be in a state of flux, welcome the Oakland Athletics to Progressive Field on Monday for the first contest of a four-game series.

Cleveland's rotation, which had the second-best starters' ERA in the American League last year at 4.08, has been a big reason for the club's slow start this season. Indians starters are last in the AL with a 4.89 ERA.

Part of the problem has been the absence of Corey Kluber, on the disabled list since May 3 with a lower back strain. Kluber will be activated to start the Thursday game against the A's.

Kluber will replace Danny Salazar in the rotation. Salazar, who was an All-Star last year, has made 10 starts and is 3-5 with a 5.50 ERA while averaging almost five walks per nine innings. Through his first 10 starts last year, Salazar was 3-5 with a 2.39 ERA.

On Sunday, manager Terry Francona announced that Salazar was being moved to the bullpen.

"He's not being banished to the bullpen," Francona said. "We're trying to have a baseline for him to build his confidence, and when he comes into a game the priority will be the first hitter, which we think will be good for him also. I don't think he's very confident right now, but we'll get him back on the road to carving up people."

The Monday starter for Cleveland will be Trevor Bauer (4-4, 6.30 ERA), who also has struggled this season but has been better in his more recent starts. Bauer is 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA in his last three turns. In three career starts against Oakland, Bauer is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA.

Cleveland will come into the week riding the momentum of one of its most complete games of the season, a 10-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

"We know we can be playing better than we have," said Jason Kipnis, who was 4-for-4 with a home run Sunday. "Games like this reassure us that this is how good we can be."

The Athletics' starter Monday will be Daniel Mengden. He will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start the game in place of Kendall Graveman, who will be placed on the 10-day disabled list for the second time this season due to a sore right shoulder.

Mengden, a 24-year-old right-hander, missed the first part of this season while he recovered from offseason foot surgery. In four starts at Nashville, he was 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA. Last year, in a combined 17 starts for Nashville and Double-A Midland, Mengden was 10-2 with a 1.46 ERA.

Mengden also started 14 games with the A's in 2016, going 2-9 with a 6.50 ERA. Monday will be his first career appearance against Cleveland.

"He's got a great mix of pitches," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got five pitches. He's got some deception in what he does, and when he's on, he's got a bright future. It's nice to get him back."

Melvin said Mengden is not yet a finished product.

"It's about being consistent, and that's one thing he missed out on last year, but who knows if it had something to do with the foot?" Melvin said.

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