Five Performances that Propelled the Cleveland Indians to the World Series

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Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Ryan Merritt (54) pitches during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Ryan Merritt (54) pitches during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game five of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Ace

Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in game four of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

Entering the postseason, Corey Kluber was a big question. The Tribe’s ace had suffered a right quadriceps strain in late-September, and had to miss his final start of the regular season. Starting Game Two against the Red Sox, no one knew for sure how healthy or how effective Kluber could be.

The 31-year old right-hander answered those questions with authority, shutting out Boston over seven innings, while yielding just three hits and striking out seven. Cleveland won the game 6-0 and pushed the Red Sox to the brink of elimination, and Josh Tomlin finished the job in Game Three at Fenway Park to send the team to the ALCS.

Kluber wasn’t done, though, taking the ball in Game One of the league championship series against the Toronto Blue Jays and once again throwing a gem. He once again did not allow a run, giving up six hits in 6.1 innings and fanning six as the Indians grabbed a 1-0 series lead.

And he would take the mound once more against the Jays, this time in Game Four, pitching on short rest for the first time in his career. While the Tribe suffered its only loss of the postseason thus far at the Rogers Centre that night, Kluber did his job, allowing a mere two runs on four hits in five innings, and adding another seven strikeouts.

Kluber is the no-brainer choice to start Game One of the World Series, and with the Cleveland pitching staff still thin due to injuries, may be required to shoulder a big load one more time. The Indians and their fans can feel good about that, because the Klubot has been set to destroy in October.

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