Trevor Bauer – not Corey Kluber – will start Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday, a decision that has not gone unnoticed by Indians fans.
Bauer is no slouch. He went 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and had 196 strikeouts to 60 walks in 176 and 1/3 innings this season.
But he’s no Kluber. The AL Cy Young candidate went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, and had 265 strikeouts to just 36 walks in 203 and 2/3 innings this season.
Is starting Bauer against the Yankees in Game 1 the right move?
“It’s Terry Francona, so yeah,” MLB Network analyst Ryan Dempster said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “If you start going to the World Series a lot and the playoffs all the time, you start to just understand that whatever he does, he has a reason for it. At first, I didn’t get it. It’s like saying, ‘Rich Hill, you’re going to start Game 1 over Clayton Kershaw.’ But then I started thinking about it. It’s kind of like their team saying, ‘Any one of our starting pitchers can beat anybody.’”
Bauer, by the way, is 10-1 over his last 14 starts.
“We’re not all about one player on a team. We’re an entire team and we got a great bullpen,” Dempster said, explaining Francona’s mindset. “Corey Kluber can still pitch Game 5 (if they) need it. I’m not as scared as Cleveland Indian fans are, let’s put it that way. I think they got a great team, and I think they got the best starting rotation in the playoffs.”
Bauer’s first pitch is slated for 7:38 p.m. ET.
While the Indians (102-60) were the best team in the AL this year, the Houston Astros (101-61) weren’t far behind. They host Boston (93-69) in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at 4:08 p.m. ET.
Red Sox fans expect manager John Farrell to get Boston back to the World Series – or at least the ALCS – for the first time since 2013.
“I have nothing but incredible respect for the man, the way he treated me and my family,” said Dempster, who played for Boston that year. “I won a World Series with him. Things were different the next year. That year after the World Series is always tough. If you look historically, it’s a tough thing to repeat. It’s a tough thing to even get back to the playoffs, to win your division. He caught a lot of flak.”
The Rex Sox finished last in the AL East in 2014 and 2015 but have won the division in each of the last two seasons, going 93-69 each year.
“They’re passionate fans, you got a $200 million payroll – you just expect them to roll over people,” Dempster said. “But they play in a tough division. He should be up for Manager of the Year with all the injuries they went through. To win their division through all of that, it says (a lot) about him. He’s not a guy you should look at firing; he’s a guy you should look at continuing to lead that ship. He knows how to do it there.”