The Cleveland Indians, like most teams, only used three pitchers in the Division Series. But with the number of games expanding from five to seven in the Championship Series, they will instead be going with four starting arms.
As expected, the first three will be Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin. The new "big three" pitchers shut down the Boston Red Sox, one of the best offenses in all of baseball, in the ALDS. They will likely need to do the same against a hard-hitting Toronto Blue Jays team over the next week if they want a shot at the World Series.
Francona announced the #Indians' rotation for ALCS:— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) October 12, 2016
G4: Clevinger & Friends
The fourth pitcher will technically Mike Clevinger, but don't be surprised to see the bullpen day, something Terry Francona utilized down the stretch when Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were both injured. Instead of committing to Mike Clevinger for a full game (and losing him as a bullpen option), Francona opted to limit him to three or four innings and let the bullpen do the best. In an ideal world, this means that Clevinger throws four innings and two or three other relievers split the remaining five innings.
Luckily, the rest of the bullpen should be plenty rested after not being used in the ALDS. Tito only used Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller out of the ‘pen to take down the Red Sox, but with a potential bullpen day in play (and as many as seven games to deal with), the other relievers,
including Danny Salazar, could get some heavy use before the ALCS is finished.
The Indians were reportedly at one point considering a three-man rotation for the entirety of the playoffs, with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer each going on short rest and Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger rotating as the third starter. But that is a lot to ask for any pitcher, let alone two who have never pitched deep into a postseason.
Bullpen days were not a huge success in the regular season, granted. But with the playoffs, things get weird, wacky, wet, and wild so who knows? Terry Francona has been aggressive with his bullpen thus far, and any reason to see more Andrew Miller is a good one.