The closest thing to a must-win scenario takes place at Rogers Centre tonight in Toronto. With the Indians up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, they need to win tonight to prevent a 3-0 hole. I know the Blue Jays could win four straight games, they have the talent and firepower to do it, but the odds would of course not be in their favor. It doesn’t happen every series where a team comes back from three games down. The Red Sox notably did it in the World Series several years back to reverse the curse. However, those kind of comebacks don’t come around too often. It would be in the Blue Jays best interest to win tonight. In a lot of ways, this is déjà vu all over again for Toronto. The Indians’ blueprint has been exactly the same as the Royals a year ago.
The Indians do not have too many brand name players on their roster. I mean, a true baseball fan would be able to recognize the guys in Cleveland, but ask your average fan and they would have a tough time naming more than two. They play small ball and rely on an excellent bullpen to get the job done, as well as getting production from unlikely places in the rotation. This sounds a lot like the Royals last season, who went on to defeat the Blue Jays and capture the World Series.
Meanwhile, the Jays have some recognizable faces on their roster. Especially if you live near the Toronto area where their faces are plastered on advertisements and the local news. Cleveland does a great job of marketing Lebron James, but I’m not so sure the Indians are number one the list of marketable players. Despite all of this, just like the Royals, the Indians are showing that they are pretty capable of playing baseball at a high level. The Blue Jays are not down 0-2 as a result of poor pitching. In fact, the pitching has been dynamite. Poor offense really let Estrada and Happ down, who did everything they could to help the Jays out. Marcus Stroman will look to duplicate those performances, while hoping the offense springs to life at the Rogers Centre.
Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.30 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.33 ERA)
Trevor Bauer was originally supposed to be getting the call in Game 2, but those honors went to Josh Tomlin, who put together a spectacular performance. Everything happens for a reason, right? Maybe this works out for the Indians in the long run. The most bizarre thing about the situation is why Bauer didn’t end up getting the call on the mound. He apparently injured himself while repairing his drone. This ranks up there with Joel Zumaya of the Tigers injuring himself playing guitar hero back in 2006, which came during the ALCS that year as well.
Bauer will be on the hump today, whether his finger is completely healed up or not. He has been a serviceable option for the Indians in the rotation, posting an ERA of 4.30 in the regular season. He has had one appearance this postseason, where he got dinged for 3 runs in 4.2 innings against the Red Sox. You actually need to go all the way back to August 29th, seven starts ago against the Twins, where he’s given up less than 3 runs. Bauer needed stitches to repair his pinkie finger, it isn’t like he just banged it up lightly, there was a solid reason for him to miss his scheduled start in Cleveland. Marcus Stroman should pitch well for the Blue Jays tonight, but I think this is going to be all about the offense. I see their offense finally coming to life at home, against an Indians’ pitcher who would probably be in the bullpen if it weren’t for Carlos Carrasco’s injury. Jays light the scoreboard up and win Game 3 of the ALCS by a comfortable margin.
PICK: BLUE JAYS -1.5 (+105)