Prior to Game 3 of the ALCS, the Cleveland Indians had a plan in mind. If Trevor Bauer’s stitched-up pinky finger opens up and gushes blood like a fountain, Corey Kluber would be bumped up to start Game 4 on short rest. That’s exactly what happened.
Bauer lasted just 21 pitches, only two outs in the first inning. And a handful of those pitches were completed with his pinky finger oozing blood before Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out of the dugout to have the umpires take a look at the finger. It was quickly decided that Bauer needed to be replaced, and most likely, that set the Tribe’s Plan B into action.
Terry Francona confirmed Corey Kluber’s start in an in-game interview — maybe the first good thing to ever come out of an in-game interview. As expected, Tito also stated that the only reliever who will not be available for the remainder of Game 3 will be Ryan Merritt, who is now Game 5’s scheduled starter.
The Indians reportedly toyed with the idea of always starting Kluber and Bauer on short rest throughout the playoffs, but they only needed three games to sweep the Boston Red Sox, so it has not come up to this point. This will be Kluber’s first-career game going on short rest.
Kluber has been tremendous in the postseason so far, striking out 13 batters in 13.1 innings against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. With the bullpen doing most of the work in Game 3, and probably in Game 5, the ALCS could hinge on how many innings Kluber can lock down on Tuesday.