Cleveland Indians: A Position-by-Position Breakdown of the ALCS

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Oct 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Indians teammates celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Indians teammates celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in game three of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Starting Pitching

October 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) throws in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during game one of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
October 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) throws in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during game one of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Indians: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger

Blue Jays: Marco Estrada, J.A Happ, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez

Cleveland and Toronto spent most of the season battling for first place in team ERA, that is until the Indians pitching staff got plagued with injuries and required the Tribe to go on a month-long rotational soul-search. The Tribe has now settled into a rotational groove, while the Blue Jays are looking to build on the great starting pitching that they got in their first series.

Cleveland will send ace Corey Kluber out for Game One in the hopes that he can duplicate the masterful performance he had against Boston. Kluber handcuffed the Red Sox in his first career postseason start, allowing up three hits over seven shutout innings in the Indians win.

Estrada threw the ball just as well in his lone postseason start, as he came within two outs of a complete game. He ended up going 8.2 innings, giving up one run to Texas.

Trevor Bauer will take the bump for the Indians in game two in the hopes that he can derail Toronto 20-game winner J.A Happ. Happ is a legitimate Cy Young contender after going 20-4 in the regular season with a 3.18 ERA. Bauer didn’t have the best start of his career in Game One of the ALDS, but it wasn’t his worst one either. Bauer gave up three runs over 4.2 innings before giving way to the bullpen, but it was exactly the kind of start the team needed to be in a position to win.

Josh Tomlin will look to build on his Game Three clinching win when he goes against Toronto fireballer Marcus Stroman in the third game of the series. Tomlin put his second-half struggles behind him in his last start, giving up only two runs in five innings to help the Indians put the Red Sox away. Tomlin is always susceptible to the home run ball, which is something that the Blue Jays are very good at hitting.  If he can keep the ball down like he did against at Fenway, though, then he could be a dangerous weapon for the Indians.

Stroman started the Wild Card game for the Jays, and he had a solid outing, giving up only two runs over six innings. The 5-foot-8 25-year old had some command issues in the regular season, so look for the Indians to take advantage of that.

Game four will be the battle of young studs when Mike Clevinger goes up against Aaron Sanchez. Clevinger was in the bullpen for the ALDS, but he was never needed. He had an interesting role for Cleveland during the regular season, as he served as a “utility pitcher,” making 17 appearances with10 in a starting capacity and seven out of the bullpen. Clevinger compiled a 1-3 record with a 5.93 ERA as a starter, but he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA as a reliever.

Sanchez turned the baseball world upside down during the regular season, going 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA, but he also had the Blue Jays worst start of the postseason. The rookie only went 5.2 innings while giving up six runs when he took the hill against the Rangers.

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