If you are wondering exactly who the Cleveland Indians are I will explain. They are a well-managed scrappy bunch of hitters that have a fantastic bullpen, and suspect starting pitching. Sounds oddly familiar to the team that the Jays lost to last year. What seems to be different about this Jays team is that they are able to answer when the opposition puts up some runs. Even though I was secretly rooting to play the Indians instead of the Red Sox; this will be no cake-walk to the World Series.
Let’s start with where the Jays have the biggest advantage – starting pitching. The Jays have 4 starters that they could throw out there for game 1 without any question. Estrada, Happ, Sanchez, and Stroman. If I were in Gibby’s shoes I would throw out the exact same rotation to the Indians that they threw at the Rangers. The Indians have Cory Kluber. He’s a former Cy Young winner that has had a very good season, but the Jays have some decent numbers against him. They have two very good pitchers that are both injured currently in Salazar and Carrasco. The Jays are definitely dodging a bullet with this. Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer are the other two starters that the Jays will most certainly see. This is a heavy edge for the Jays and they will need to jump out to leads early in games to capitalize on this. Salazar has a chance to be back for this series, but this is still a big question mark for the Indians.
Bullpen – The difference in the bullpen will be Andrew Miller. He’s an absolute nightmare for lefties and righties. The lumbering lefty came to the Indians in a deadline deal with the Yanks, and has been lights out since his arrival. Cody Allen is a solid closer and Bryan Shaw is a very good 7th inning arm. The Jays will need to play ahead to stay away from the back end of the Indians bullpen. Roberto Osuna is the key for the Jays. He has been dynamite. Gibby has relied quite heavily on his 21 year old closer, and will probably continue to do so at least until Benoit is back from injury. The one area that the Jays are really hurting is situational lefty spots. Cecil has been inconsistent, Liriano is a starter by nature and might still not be ready to go, and Loup – well is Loup. This is the one area that the Indians can expose the Jays.
Lineup – This will be more evenly matched then people assume. The Indians are excellent at getting on base. They walk a pile, and don’t strike out nearly as much as the Jays do. Where the Jays can excel is once again by hitting with power. Other than Napoli the Indians don’t have a true power hitter. They will walk, single, and double you to death. This lineup is good from top to bottom. Not an easy out in there. On the other side we have seen murderer’s row heat up (minus Bautista’s game 3). If we continue to see Donaldson, Encarnacion, Bautista, and Tulo hitting the way that they currently are the Indians will have a tough time dealing with this Jays lineup. This is the Jays that I was expecting from opening day. A quick strike offence that could erase 2 and 3 run leads with one swing of a bat. The Indians current set of starters other than Kluber are not strike out heavy pitchers. They are finesse pitchers that will try to pick corners constantly, and make you get yourselves out.
In the end I don’t think the Indians have the depth at starting pitching to make it out of this series. With a healthy Salazar and Corrasco I think they would have the edge against the Jays. The Jays will continue to hit the ball well, and the Indians will have a tough time keeping up against the best staff in the AL.
Jays in 6