“If I Were the Manager…” Dealing With the Indians’ Bullpen

In Game 1 of the 2016 World Series, Corey Kluber threw six innings of dominant baseball. He became the first pitcher to strike out eight batters in the first three innings in any playoff game, and he continued this pitching through the next three innings, allowing just four hits and zero runs over the first two-thirds of the game.

The problems began for Cleveland starting in the seventh inning. The team held a 3-0 and was out-hitting the Cubs six to four, including a three to nothing advantage in walks drawn. There is something to be said for ensuring a victory in Game 1, especially since the winner of the first game has won 12 of the last 13 World Series, but bringing in your relief pitching ace for a fairly heavy workload in what was a gimme game against a struggling Chicago offense simply baffles me.

Andrew Miller was the ALCS MVP, and he has allowed zero runs in his six postseason appearances out of the bullpen. So one would think that he is a very valuable asset that Terry Francona would want to protect. Maybe more important to the Tribe is Cody Allen, their closer, who also has a perfect 0.00 ERA and has struck out 1.57 batters per inning. This late-game duo has combined for an average 0.78 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) in 19⅓ innings pitched this postseason coming into the World Series.

Yet these were the two men called upon when the scoreboard read 3-0 in the seventh inning and 6-0 in the ninth when Miller and Allen, respectively, were called to take the mound. Why one would tire out their two best relief pitchers in an easy game is beyond me, especially when all but one reliever have ERA’s below 3.00 in the playoffs.

If I were the manager, I would have brought in the live young arm of Ryan Merritt to eat up a few innings before calling on the veteran Bryan Shaw to close out the game in the ninth inning.


 

Think you know more than Joe Maddon and Terry Francona? Keep up with our “If I Were the Manager” series, in which writer Jacob Lintner provides his view on a key point in each game of the 2016 World Series, and let Jacob know how you feel about his suggestions on Twitter @FHNtoday or @TheJacobLintner.