In just a scant two games in the 2016 postseason, we have already seen Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona do some amazing things. Game 1 was a masterpiece as far as bullpen usage goes with Andrew Miller pitching a full two innings at a crucial point int he game, and Cody Allen recording five outs for a 40-pitch shutout. Game 2 featured some similarly bold moves with the lineup, such as left-handed batter Lonnie Chisenhall starting against left-handed pitcher David Price and eventually hitting a home run.
All of that was great to see, and I am sure we will see it again down the road, but riding the bullpen so hard could have obvious drawbacks. Miller seemed committed to be ready in Game 2, and even warmed up twice throughout the game, but I would be a little worried about seeing him come into the game after throwing 40 pitches the night prior. It never came to that anyway in Game 2, as the Indians blew out the Boston Red Sox, but things could have gone very badly in a close or losing effort from the Tribe.
Thanks to hurricane Matthew, constant rain in Boston has delayed Game 3 to Monday at 6:00 p.m. ET. The bullpen would probably have been OK to go with the normal Sunday start, given the fact that Corey Kluber dominated Game 2 and required only Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw to finish out the blowout victory on 26 combined pitches, but the extra rest can’t hurt.
Now the entire bullpen will be rested by at least two full days, but more importantly, so will the Tribe’s starting pitchers. Assuming the Indians stick with their scheduled Game 3 starter, Josh Tomlin, for Monday, that would leave Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber both available to close out the series on full rest. Prior to the delay, Bauer was expected to pitch on Monday in what would have been Game 4 on three day’s rest.
Of course, the extra rest benefits both teams. The Red Sox are expected to use Clay Buchholz in Game 3, even though Rick Porcello would technically be available on short rest. The extra day does guarantee they can have Porcello and David Price on full rest for the final two games and avoid using Eduardo Rodriguez, if those games are needed. Based on the first games of the series, however, I don’t know how big of an advantage that is.
Buckle up, everyone, these last few games are going to be wild.