The Blue Jays begin the tall task of coming back from a 3-0 deficit on Tuesday afternoon with Aaron Sanchez taking the hill.
Things aren’t looking good for the Toronto Blue Jays right now. After squeezing into the playoffs as one of the Wild Card teams and stamping out the Rangers in the process, the Blue Jays have gone ice cold.
Through the first three games of the ALCS, the Blue Jays have just three runs and are batting with a line of .159/.209/.190. In Game 3, they managed just 7-33 against seven different pitchers. Obviously that’s a boat load of bad news for the Blue Jays, and they’ll need to figure things out in a massive hurry if they’re going to extend to heir season.
Now in a 3-0 series hole, the Blue Jays are set to try and become just the 2nd team in MLB history to come back from that deficit. In fact, there have been 35 teams in a 3-0 series hole, and just ONE has come back to win the series, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. It gets worse, as history shows that this scenario ends in a 4 game sweep 82.9% of the time.
So that’s the bad news.
The good news is, the Cleveland pitching staff, despite their dominance, has got to be getting tired. Terry Francona had to use seven different pitchers on Monday night, and he’s going to need them again in order to finish up the series.
Francona has leaned heavily on his ace relievers, namely Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen. Allen has already pitched in five games in the postseason throwing 6.2 innings, while Miller has thrown 9 innings in five games.
But it’s the starting staff that is hurting the most, and where the Blue Jays have to attack if they’re going to get back into the series. Corey Kluber started Game 1 and is expected to take the ball on short rest in Game 4. The right-hander had a strong season and Game 1, but this will be his first start on short rest in 2016.
After Kluber, Cleveland has mentioned turning to seldom used, Ryan Merritt for Game 5. If the series reaches Game 6, they’ll go back to Josh Tomlin, and if the Jays can force Game 7, it’s likely Kluber makes his 3rd start of the series.
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Trevor Bauer tried to make his start on Monday, but his injured pinky finger wouldn’t allow him to throw more than 21 pitches, and will not heal in time for him to contribute to the ALCS. The Indians are also already without Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco, arguably their best starters after Kluber.
The circumstances are far from ideal, but the Blue Jays are set up for an opportunity to take a run at the red-hot Indians. Francona has had a magical touch thus far in the playoffs, but there are only so many times Andrew Miller and company can shut the door before cracks in the foundation start to show. The more the Blue Jays see the same arms, the higher their chances of success should go.
Of course, Cleveland could shut the door on Tuesday and give their pitching staff the rest they badly need before the World Series.
It’s up to the Blue Jays lineup to push them, and if they can manage to win one game, the pressure will mount on the Indians’ staff.
Let’s start with one.