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Can Andrew Miller or Cody Allen pitch in Game 2 for Indians?

Last night was totally worth it, but what does it mean for Game 2?

Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians fell behind twice early in Thursday night's Game 1 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, but came back to take the lead by hitting three home runs in the bottom of the third inning, all off Cy Young favorite Rick Porcello, who hadn't given up even two home runs in the same inning all season. Once the Indians were ahead, manager Terry Francona was dead set on keeping that lead, and when the left-handed Brock Holt came to the plate with two outs and the bases empty in the fifth inning, Francona went to Andrew Miller, the best left-handed reliever in baseball.

Miller gave up a double to Holt and then walked Mookie Betts, but struck David Ortiz out. He then pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning and retired the first two hitters in the seventh. It was the fourth time Miller has recorded six outs in a game since joining the Indians, though it was the first time in his five years as a reliever that he's pitched in three different innings in a game.

Bryan Shaw finished the seventh, but gave up a home run to Holt to lead off the eighth, before getting Betts to hit a weak pop-up that Shaw got to catch himself. (He was too annoyed about the home run to enjoy the pleasure pitchers usually take in catching a pop-up, a thing that happened only 41 times all season in MLB.) That brought Ortiz back to the plate, and Francona decided to go to Cody Allen for the final five outs. Same as Miller, Allen gave up a double to the first batter he faced, but he worked out of his jam and got through the next inning too. Same as Miller, Allen threw 40 pitches.

It was the first time a team had two relievers each throw 40+ pitches and won a nine-inning postseason game since Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, when the Blue Jays did it in a 15-14 victory that set a World Series record for most combined runs. There have been a handful of instances since then when a team did while losing, but that's different than a manager believing it to be an effective strategy for holding onto a small lead. Win or lose, the Indians hadn't had two relievers each throw 40+ pitches in the same nine-inning game since 2011.

Francona ignored standard bullpen practices last night, and it paid off, but Miller's 40 pitches were his second-highest total in the five years he's been a reliever, and Allen's 40 pitches were his highest total in his 3+ years as the team's closer. Will either of them be able to bounce back to pitch again in Game 2, especially with it being a day game?

The short answer is, yes, they'll be available. They both had Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off, and they'll have Saturday off as well. It's the postseason, all hands on deck. I guess the better question is, what might be expected of them?

I went through each pitcher's game log and looked for every instance of them throwing even 25 pitches (because there would have been zero results if I'd used 40 pitches), and then pitching again the next day. Even with this much lower bar to clear, cases are rare.

Prior to last night, Andrew Miller threw 25+ pitches in a game 36 times prior to last night. He pitched again the next day two times:

  • Miller threw 25 pitches for Baltimore in Game 1 of the 2014 ALCS. The next afternoon, he faced four batters, throwing a total of 20 pitches. Miller retired all four of the batters he faced in that game, and a runner who was on base when he entered the game was thrown out while trying to steal second.
  • On July 22, 2016, Miller threw 32 pitches for New York. The next day he faced three batters, throwing a total of 10 pitches and retiring all three of them, two on strikeouts.

Prior to last night, Cody Allen had thrown 25+ pitches in a game 43 times prior to last night. He pitched again the next day three times.

  • On August 22, 2014, Allen threw 27 pitches. The next night he faced three batters, throwing a total of 15 pitches. Allen retired all three batters, two of them on strikeouts.
  • On April 20, 2015, Allen threw 30 pitches. The next night he faced three batters, throwing a total of 18 pitches. Again, he retired all three batters, two of them on strikeouts.
  • On April 21, 2016, Allen threw 30 pitches. The next night he faced three batters, throwing a 11 pitches pitches while retiring all three hitters.

Neither guy has ever pitched the day after throwing more than 32 pitches, and even the day after throwing 25+ pitches, it's only happened five times out of a possible 79. Generally speaking, managers don't put that sort of workload on their pitchers. Today's isn't generally speaking though, and we can see that in the limited number of times these guys have been asked to go back out the day after throwing 25+ pitches, they've done well every time. Only once has either of them been asked to face more than three batters though, and that time it was four. Neither of them has been asked to throw more than 20 pitches. I'd expect that to be about the limit for either of them today as well. Three or four batters, not more than 20 pitches or so. In a game with Corey Kluber starting, one inning from Miller and one inning from Allen might be enough.