Cleveland Indians: Breaking Down the Pitching Matchup with the Cubs

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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 /
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Oct 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) during the first inning in game three of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (47) during the first inning in game three of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Game Two: Trevor Bauer vs. Jake Arrieta

Francona has not confirmed his Game Two starter as of this writing, but the way things set up, Bauer and Arrieta look to be the most logical choices. Neither has had a sterling postseason thus far, but both have proven in the past that they can be big-game pitchers.

Bauer made headlines before ALCS when suffered a lacerated pinky finger on his pitching hand while repairing a drone, and was forced to leave his Game Three start when the wound opened up and began gushing blood. He went just 0.2 innings in that game, so if the finger holds up, his arm will certainly be fresh.

The 25-year old did make the start in Game One of the ALDS for Cleveland and put the team in position to secure the win. In 4.2 innings, he yielded three runs on six hits to the Red Sox, including a pair of solo home runs. The sample size for Bauer is small (5.1 innings), but he’s posted a 5.06 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and .286 batting average against in October.

Assuming he is ready to pitch, it will be interesting to see how Progressive Field plays into things, as Bauer has an ERA that is more than a run higher at home in 2016. The argument might even be made that he would be better suited to start Game Three at Wrigley Field.

Like Bauer, Arrieta has had his struggles in the playoffs, posting a 4.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and .273 opponents’ batting average in two games the Cubs lost. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner has given up six runs on 12 hits, striking out 10 and walking 1, in his 11 innings of work.

After having scaled back usage of his slider during the regular season, instead relying on a mid-90s fastball, Arrieta has gone back to the sinker-slider mix that worked so well for him a year ago. He throws those two pitches more than 70 percent of the time and gets plenty of ground balls and easy flyouts from them.

What is interesting to note about Arrieta, as pointed by Ray Danner at It’s Pronounced Lajaway, is how much more effective left-handed hitters have been against him in 2016 versus a season ago. While his splits against right-handed bats stayed about the same, lefties had an OPS more 150 points higher this season, and seven of the 12 hits he’s allowed in this postseason have come left-handers.

Given the fact that Francona can essentially trot out a lineup with seven left-handed or switch-hitting bats, Arrieta’s splits will be something to keep an eye on when he takes the mound.

Advantage: Chicago

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