A Secret Weapon in the Pen?
Terry Francona changed the way bullpens would be managed going forward with one tradition-bucking decision in Game 1 of the 2016 ALDS against the Red Sox. With Bauer teetering against a dangerous Boston lineup, Francona brought Andrew Miller in to put out a fire in the fifth inning.
Miller would remain in the game until the seventh, recording two full innings worth of outs and spearheading a reliever revolution that continues to be employed in big spots presently. Miller was the Indians’ setup man, and the status quo demanded he be used in the eighth inning.
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But the fifth inning was the point at which Francona felt the game might slip away if he didn’t turn to his best reliever. So why wait until later, when the Indians might not hold a lead anymore?
If there is to be an October 2019 version of Andrew Miller, it will be Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco’s progress through a rehab stint in the minors has continued to produce positive news and optimism regarding his potential return.
If and when he completes his inspiring comeback, it is likely to be in a Swiss-army-knife bullpen role. Carrasco has the fastball to overpower opposing hitters and the off-speed stuff to make them look foolish.
He may not have the time to ramp himself back into 100-pitch shape, but his offerings will play well in any situation and any inning. And much like with Miller in 2016, the ground will shake at Progressive Field when Carrasco emerges from the bullpen in a big moment.