Posted on October 17, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After two spectacular pitching performances in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS, the Cleveland Indians take a 2-0 series lead into Game 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays. The series now shifts to Toronto, where the Blue Jays are hoping to wake up offensively after scoring just one run on 10 hits over the first two games. However, good pitching tends to travel well, especially in the postseason, putting Toronto in danger of losing in the ALCS for a second straight season if they can’t win Game 3 and get back in the series.
It’s Miller Time
Cleveland relief pitcher Andrew Miller has turned into the most talked about player in the ALCS. In two games against the Blue Jays, Miller has pitched 3.2 shutout innings, while allowing just one hit and striking out 10. That’s exactly one out in two games that has not come via the strikeout. He’s not Cleveland’s closer, which actually gives Miller the flexibility to come in whenever the Indians need him, meaning he’s involved in some of the most important at bats in the game, and thus far, that has made Miller a difference maker for the Indians.
Fresh off an unfortunate, non-baseball injury, Trevor Bauer will start Game 3 for the Indians. Bauer wasn’t great against the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS, giving up three runs over 4.2 innings, including two home runs, so he could have some trouble containing Toronto’s lineup, especially with the Blue Jays playing in a controlled environment back at home. That being said, Bauer did throw five shutout innings in Toronto in early July. He then struck out 13 in eight innings of work against the Blue Jays in August, allowing two runs on five hits, so he’s proven that he can have success against Toronto’s lineup. Expect Bauer to throw plenty of breaking balls to Toronto’s hitters, as that formula has worked for Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin in the first two games of the series.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, will send Marcus Stroman to the mound for the first time since the wild card game against the Baltimore Orioles. Stroman will have nearly two weeks off between starts, so one has to wonder how sharp he’ll be, especially early in the game. However, in two starts against the Indians this season, Stroman allowed just two runs over 14 innings, striking out 15, so if he’s on top of his game, he’s more than capable of shutting down Cleveland’s lineup.
Ezekiel Carrera may be Toronto’s biggest X-factor in Game 3. He was a part-time player during the regular season and then became a huge part of the team’s success in the NLDS against the Texas Rangers. However, Carrera has gone gold in the ALCS along with the rest of the team. If he can get back on track in Game 3 and get a couple of hits, it could help to jumpstart Toronto’s offense. However, if Carrera doesn’t start hitting, the Blue Jays may look to make a change and insert Melvin Upton Jr. into the lineup in his place.
Despite being down 2-0 in the series, the Blue Jays are being considered favorites in Game 3. It should be easier for Toronto’s offense to score runs inside a dome environment than it was in the cold of Cleveland the first two games. Also, Stroman is a safer bet to have a strong performance than Bauer is. Both pitchers should be able to perform reasonably well, but the Blue Jays will finally show some power offensively and put a few runs on the board. Toronto wins 5-3.