Corey Kluber is the Key to a Game 2 Victory

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Aug 31, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Indians will rely on Corey Kluber to go deep into today’s ALDS Game 2 against the Boston Red Sox.

Terry Francona did not take any chances with his pitching staff in Thursday’s Game 1 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The Cleveland Indians were able to secure home-field advantage for the series, and Francona knows just how important it is to win Game 1, gaining that early advantage moving forward.

So when Trevor Bauer made it through 4 2/3 innings with the lead, he had effectively done his job and was removed in favor of Andrew Miller. Seeing Miller enter a game so early was an odd sight, but it is something that may become more prevalent in baseball when managers realize the game can be won or lost at any point throughout the game.

Miller was dominant, going two full innings and throwing 40 pitches. Cody Allen also finished with 40 pitches on the night. The Indians got the win, but the work from those two means they may be limited to one or two batters if needed in Game 2.

But the possibility of the bullpen being used prominently in Game 1 was no secret, as the Game 2 starter is expected to give five or six solid innings of work. Corey Kluber was given an extra day to prepare for his postseason start, which turned out to be a great idea after the Indians won Game 1 with Bauer.

As we know, anything can happen in the playoffs. Rick Porcello, considered to be a top candidate for the Cy Young award, gave up five runs in just 4 1/3 innings of work.

Francona knows how unpredictable playoff baseball can be, but Kluber is the team’s best option to go deep into the game. Before his final start of the season, in which he was pulled after four innings because of an injury, he has not gone fewer than six innings in a game since July 3.

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Once again, anything can happen in the playoffs, but Francona will also put more trust in Kluber to get out of a tough situation. If Bauer would have given up those two runs in the first inning last night, and had allowed another hit to keep the inning going, the bullpen may have gotten up much earlier than it did.

But if Kluber gets into trouble early, there is the trust that he will get out of it and settle in, as Bauer ended up doing last night. This trust will also be necessary because Francona needs Kluber to log at least five innings, with six or seven being ideal.

The offense must do its job as well, but Kluber going five, six or even seven innings will increase the Indians’ chances to win against an inconsistent David Price and a young Red Sox lineup.

Next: 3 takeaways from Game 1 win

If he does struggle, Miller won’t be there to do what he did last night.

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