Something about this whole thing seems rigged for ratings. Or money, I’m not sure.
First, the Cleveland Indians get to play two games at home and now they have to travel to an entirely different country to play three games in a row? Not every team can force their team cross national borders, but circumstances have allowed the Toronto Blue Jays to do just that.
Jose Bautista’s dumb comments aside, the Indians are in a good spot heading into Game 3 of the ALCS, up 2-0 over the Blue Jays.
With Trevor Bauer’s start getting pushed a game due to an unfortunate drone accident, he will now open the series on the road for the Tribe.
How to watch
As with Game 1 and Game 2, tonight’s matchup can be seen on TBS or Sportsnet for those north of you north of the border. First pitch will be around 8:00 p.m. ET.
Pitching matchup: Trevor Bauer vs. Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman finished 2016 with a string of outings that were adequate, including several quality starts, but not mind-blowing.
In August and September (11 starts total), Stroman allowed three or fewer runs nine times, but his strikeout totals bottomed out several times. Since striking out 13 Houston Astros batters on August 1 (his first, and last, double-digit strikeout game of the season), Stroman struck out six or fewer batters nearly every time he took the mound.
The 25-year-old looked excellent for the Jays in the American League Wild Card game on October 4, pitching six innings with two earned runs, six strikeouts and no walks.
Stroman is not a batter who relies on blow-you-away stuff, only topping out at around 93 mph. Instead, he uses breaking pitches and a deadly changeup — two things the Indians are pretty good at hitting. Maybe this will mean Tyler Naquin can finally join in on offense.
For fans of small, meaningless sample sizes, No Indians batter has faced Stroman more than nine times in his career. That batter is Mike Napoli, who is 0-for-9 in his career against the righty. No one has taken him yard, yet.
On the Indians side of things, Trevor Bauer will be the circumstantial pitcher taking the mound. At this point you should know most of what Trevor brings to the table, but the big key will be getting his big 12-6 curve working. If he can do that, and keep it out of the middle of the play, he could fool the aggressive Blue Jays batters just like Josh Tomlin did in Game 2 with his curveball and just like Corey Kluber did in Game 1 with his slider.
Key to the game: Keep pitching so well that Jose Bautista thinks you’re cheating
That’s it. Just make sure everyone is keeping the ball out of the zone and off-speed. Whether it’s Bauer, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, or.... those other relievers? McA... McArthy? Ander... Anders? I can’t remember, I haven’t seen any other names in so long.
Regardless, whoever is on the mound, just keep circumstances under your control and make Bautista angry.