CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – ‘That’s why they pay him the big bucks.’
Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona is used to making key decisions, and the results go both ways, as they do for most.
The most interesting decision the former World Champion made prior to the ALDS involved not starting his Cy Young winner in Game 1 while scheduling him for Game 5. Things have happened in between those two games, but so far, Games 1 and 5 are lining up to perfection.
Will Kluber make his manager look like a ‘genius’ again? Francona is not necessarily optimistic, but he is ready.
“I don’t know that solace is the right word,” the skipper said. “I think we tried to be prepared for just about every scenario that could be thrown at us, and I think we feel real comfortable with how we went about everything and we wanted Kluber if we got to this game.
“We got to this game.”
It is hard to imagine that a man who had given up four earned runs once since May 3rd would duplicate his mistakes in the next game. That notion would seem even truer considering Kluber has allowed 11 earned runs in 10 starts following a 4+ run outing since the start of 2016.
Francona again spoke of his ace’s preparation on Tuesday, as he seems to in any reference to Kluber. The pitcher himself agreed that his positive follow-ups could be attributed to the daily grind of his off-days.
“Hopefully, it shows that the four-plus ones are outliers too,” he said. “But I think it’s just identifying when things go wrong and trying to address what you need to do to correct them and then going about using those four days, or whatever it is, to address them and try to get things back on track.”
There is still one worry for the righty. Francona admitted on multiple occasions that Kluber’s mechanics were not up to par in Game 1, but gave a window into more that could be at play.
Are the mechanical issues a byproduct of the back injury that kept Kluber out for almost all of May?
“I think it actually had gone back a couple games,” Francona had said. “He was getting a little low on that, kind of sitting on that back side. I think there’s reasons for it. At times, I think he’s probably making sure that that back doesn’t act up or things like that.”
If it were to emerge that Kluber’s back could be bothering him again – and note that this is the first mention of the previous ailment in regards to a flare up since the actual injury – he could be in trouble again. If the Indians got two subpar outings from Kluber in a 5-game series, they were probably not meant to win in the first place.