By Jonathan Peterlin
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – A tale of two bullpens has emerged as the Cubs stayed aggressive with Aroldis Chapman in Game Six while the Indians went in a different direction as the game unfolded.
For the first time this postseason the Indians didn’t use Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, or Andrew Miller. In a game that saw the Cubs go up seven to nothing in the third, Terry Francona paced for a game seven while Chicago skipper Joe Maddon hit the accelerator button.
The ramifications for each are yet to be seen, but they could prove one way the Indians have an advantage, albeit a small one, moving into Game Seven.
We’ll start with the Cubs.
In the seventh inning, Maddon went to flame thrower Aroldis Chapman to face Francisco Lindor as the Indians had two runners on with two outs.
Indians catcher Roberto Perez on the move to go with Chapman “That’s why they got him, that’s the same reason we got Miller. When you got a guy throwing one hundred miles per hour, you can bring him in any situation.”
It took two pitches for a ninety-nine mile an hour four-seam fastball from Chapman to induce a ground out to first base. With that, and another inning to his credit, we have now seen Chapman toss sixty-two pitches across the past two games.
Baseball is filled with past experiences that impact your future. Coaches draw off of those experiences, the same way we do in deciding what car we want to purchase or where we choose to eat. He’ll never admit it, but Joe Maddon likely had Game Five of the ALCS in 2008 against the Red Sox in his head. In that game, another Maddon vs Francona gem, the Red Sox erased a seven to nothing deficit late to win the game and stretch the series out.
Things worked out better for Maddon this time around.
Maddon knows Chapman was used more than desired. Sure, he can use Chapman in Game Seven as he’ll have a whole season to recover, but there is a question as to how effective Chapman will be after the duress put on his arm.
The ace in Maddon’s hole is that all indications suggest he’ll have left hander Jon Lester waiting for use. To pitch off as little rest as Lester has had isn’t uncommon.
Randy Johnson in the 2001 World Series went 104 pitches in a Game Six win to then relieve Miguel Batista a day later in Game Seven to throw seventeen pitches and secure a championship for the Diamondbacks.
Lester after the game himself on the possibility he’ll be used in Game Seven: “Tomorrow, there are no rules, no boundaries, no guidelines.”
The southpaw has fared well against the Indians this fall classic. Most recently picking up a Game Five win tossing ninety-two pitches across six innings allowing two earned.
For the Indians, all things considered, they have to be pretty happy with where the backend of their pitching staff sits in what turned out to be a de facto rest day.
To expect Corey Kluber to give you another strong outing isn’t fair. He’s on shortened rest once again, but you have to feel confident in the team throwing out their ace, but even more confident in that he doesn’t have to throw eight innings for a win.
Cody Allen on the fresh bullpen entering Game Seven: “It’s all hands on deck for both guys, for both teams. It’s the last game of the season, you’re not going to hold any punches.”
This postseason has been an interesting one with the resurgence of the “fireman” reliever. Since Buck Showalter’s failed use of Zach Britton in the AL Wild Card Game, there’s been an added focus on relievers. Fortunately for the Indians, they’ve been the benefactors of some of the best arms in the back of games baseball has seen in recent history.
With Shaw, Miller, and Allen at their disposal, the tricks and plays regarding usage won’t be a question mark for Terry Francona. The trio has combined to throw thirty-eight innings allowing just four earned runs, good for a combined ERA of 0.95.
The blueprint is simple, and if Kluber can excel in another start, the Indians are set up to hoist the trophy at the end of the night. Now it comes to down to execution.