CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Game One of a playoff series means a number one starter, right? Not necessarily.
Whomever the Indians play in Game One of the ALDS on Thursday will more than likely be using their second starter anyway, so why wouldn’t Terry Francona toy with the idea of saving Corey Kluber?
For one, Kluber is now set to be on normal rest when Thursday rolls round, and Francona does not generally play around with giving pitchers extra rest. Losing Game One in a five game series is not exactly ideal either.
Oh yeah, and Kluber is the best pitcher in baseball.
Francona will not give anything up before he has to in regards to his roster construction for the sake of gamesmanship, not even that Kluber will start Thursday in Cleveland.
So suspend your disbelief for a second, and look into why Kluber could wait.
If you are someone who goes off of what someone does say, there is something to be found in Francona’s latest transcripts.
“Like whoever starts Game 1 could go to the bullpen later in the series, whoever is supposed to go later – you never know how it’s going to work, so we just want to make sure we have everything covered,” the manager said Sunday.
The premise of another starter going to the bullpen seems unnecessary considering Mike Clevinger has already made the move, and Danny Salazar may be used in that capacity as well.
The notion is not terribly farfetched however if you are familiar with Francona’s postseason usage of pitchers. The manager may have tipped his hand slightly when asked about whether or not starters would be used on three-days rest like last season.
“You certainly want to advance, but if you kind of go to the well early – I mean the one guy who is probably built for it is Trevor,” he continued.
Bauer has always spoken about his desire to pitch as much as possible, and on three-days rest being preferable.
When asked about when he should be used, Bauer was diplomatic in his response.
“Hopefully 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5,” he joked. “So, we’ll see. Whenever they feel like using me.”
He also prefers to pitch in high-leverage situations, and while every playoff game is big, game one might get the most out of the righty.
“Yeah I’m looking forward to it, hopefully see a couple ticks of added velocity,” he said of the playoffs in general. “I’d expect there to probably be at 94, 95 pretty consistently again. And then just every inning is super important. Go out there like a closer and try to close each inning out and then whatever I run out of gas, there’s plenty of people to pick me up. It’s fun because everything takes on such a big importance and such a big meaning.”
There has not been enough of a correlation to determine Bauer’s numbers at home warrant forcing a home start, but the numbers are better for the most part, especially with his strikeouts.
Gamesmanship would not be gamesmanship should there be no question to be asked, but the possibility remains open until a starter is named.