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Yankees/Indians

Both the Indians and Yankees took care of business at home, and now the best-of-five series reaches the deciding game back in Cleveland, with the winners moving on to face the Astros in the ALCS.

Trevor Bauer flopped in Game 4, which means the Indians are turning to Cy Young award favorite Corey Kluber for a second time after he had a very rough start of his own (2 2/3 innings, six runs, two homers) in Game 2. Terry Francona’s decision to start Bauer over Kluber in Game 1, and thus hold back Kluber to start Games 2 and 5 on normal rest, may end up defining this series. Game 2 was Kluber’s worst start of the season and he didn’t allow more than three runs in back-to-back starts all year, so another poor outing would be shockingly uncharacteristic.

CC Sabathia wasn’t great in Game 2, but he out-pitched Kluber by a wide margin and more or less accomplished what manager Joe Girardi is looking for from his starters at this point: Avoid a big mess, get through five innings, and hand things over to the bullpen. The fab five of Chad Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman all pitched in relief of Sabathia in Game 2, but the Indians prevailed 8-9 in 13 innings. Tuesday’s off day and a fresh bullpen means Girardi will likely have a very quick hook if Sabathia runs into any issues.

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) at Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 8:08 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 65% Indians, 35% Yankees

Projected Starting Lineups

Yankees vs. Kluber (R)

Indians vs. Sabathia (L)

Brett Gardner (L), LF

Francisco Lindor (S), SS

Aaron Judge (R), RF

Jason Kipnis (L), CF

Didi Gregorius (L), SS

Jose Ramirez (S), 2B

Gary Sanchez (R), C

Edwin Encarnacion (R), DH

Greg Bird (L), 1B

Carlos Santana (S), 1B

Starlin Castro (R), 2B

Austin Jackson (R), LF

Aaron Hicks (S), CF

Jay Bruce (L), RF

Jacoby Ellsbury (L), DH

Roberto Perez (R), C

Todd Frazier (R), 3B

Giovanny Urshela (R), 3B

Injuries/Availability

Edwin Encarnacion has been on the sidelines since injuring his ankle in Game 2, but he took batting practice Tuesday and there’s optimism surrounding his ability to play. Cleveland would obviously love to have his right-handed power in the lineup against the left-handed Sabathia. I've wondered why the Indians don't just move Kipnis back to the infield and play speedster Greg Allen in center field, and Urshela being banged up after taking a line drive off his leg in Game 4 could give Francona a reason to tinker.

Joe Girardi has switched things up a bit, swapping Gregorius and Sanchez, plus Bird and Castro. In doing so, he removes any consecutive same-sided hitters.

Both bullpens should be fully rested and ready to take on heavy workloads. Kluber is certainly capable of dominating for seven-plus innings and Sabathia out-lasted him in Game 2, but the over/under for outs recorded by relievers in this game is probably something like 24.5.

Outlook

Francona put it perfectly Tuesday, saying: “We wanted Kluber if we got to this game, and we got to this game.” If the Indians’ ace pitches like his usual self, they’ll likely move on. If not, this will be a battle of the bullpens, with two of the best, deepest relief corps in baseball squaring off.

PECOTA sees the Indians as big favorites, with home-field advantage and Kluber’s pre-Game 2 excellence pushing the odds to nearly 2-to-1.