Corey Kluber pitches today in a set of circumstances that he has never previously encountered.
There's been quite a bit of that for the Cleveland Indians in the last two months, to the point where an ever-shifting set of expectations and roles is now normal. What did Kluber say when asked if he would be able to pitch on three days of rest? "Just let me know when and I'll be raring to go," according to Francona.
For followers of Kluber -- both in Cleveland and around the World since time immemorial -- this is not at all surprising. If his career is defined by anything, it is a relentless work ethic and a willingness to adjust; an unwavering commitment to his team and the game contained within a stoic shell. It is this combination of traits that leads me to believe that Corey Kluber on short rest will look a lot like Corey Kluber on full rest.
The question is, for how long?
As a pitch count rises, pitchers throwing on short rest are prone to lose their stuff a little bit sooner than fully rested pitchers. The Indians also have no shortage of arms behind him today, including Ryan Merritt and Mike Clevinger. Both young starters were, at one point, slated to start today's game. Now, they will be options out of the bullpen with the ability to go long. Francona did not use either pitcher yesterday, presumably due to his uncertainty about the state of the series. A 2-1 lead in a series is a much different situation than a 3-0 game with a chance to reach the World Series.
Given Francona's use of relievers yesterday, the entire bullpen should be available for at least part of an inning. This means that in the unlikely event that today's meeting of the Corey Kluber Society is disappointing, all hands will be on deck to help the Indians sail safely into the World Series.
Regardless of what happens, this is the most important game of the Klubot's career. He's been an undisputed ace since the beginning of the 2014 season, and today he might be able to crystallize his role as one of the era's great pitchers with a signature performance. If Kluber comes out throwing breaking balls like this one, it could be a long afternoon for Jays hitters.
There is also a chance that Kluber will pitch the "If-necessary" game seven in Cleveland. For our part, let us simply come to the television, to the radio, to the constantly refreshing box score, and witness his incomprehensible glory. In our lifetimes we should be lucky to attain the tenant that stands at the heart of the Corey Kluber Society: "How might I do spiritually what Corey Kluber does physically?"
Perhaps today we will see a sign from the man himself, showing us that even in times of great stress and adversity, the center can hold, and anarchy can be held at bay. See you at the meeting, brothers and sisters.