Indians/Blue Jays

Corey Kluber wasn't at his best on short rest Tuesday, but by going five relatively effective innings he did allow the Indians' bullpen to catch its collective breath a bit after Trevor Bauer's abbreviated, blood-filled Game 3 start. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are both rested and presumably able to combine for at least three innings today, and even Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw had light Game 4 workloads. All of which is good, important news for Cleveland, because Ryan Merritt is making just his second career big-league start after logging a grand total of 11 innings for the Indians. Any left-handed pitcher facing the Blue Jays' righty-packed lineup is in a very tough spot, but what Merritt is being asked to do is on a whole different level.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays will turn to Marco Estrada with their season on the line and hope his postseason success continues. Estrada tossed eight innings of two-run ball against the Indians in Game 1 and has a 2.02 ERA with a 27/2 K/BB ratio in five playoff starts dating back to last year. He's exactly who the Blue Jays would want on the mound in a must-win game.

Cleveland Indians (Ryan Merritt) at Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 4:00 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 61% Blue Jays, 39% Indians

Projected Starting Lineups

Indians vs. Estrada (R)

Blue Jays vs. Merritt (L)

Carlos Santana (S), DH

Jose Bautista (R), RF

Jason Kipnis (L), 2B

Josh Donaldson (R), 3B

Francisco Lindor (S), SS

Edwin Encarnacion (R), 1B

Mike Napoli (R), 1B

Troy Tulowitzki (R), SS

Jose Ramirez (S), 3B

Russell Martin (R), C

Lonnie Chisenhall (L), RF

Melvin Upton (R), DH

Coco Crisp (S), LF

Ezequiel Carrera (L), LF

Tyler Naquin (L), CF

Kevin Pillar (R), CF

Roberto Perez (R), C

Darwin Barney (R), 2B


Devon Travis' knee injury leaves the Blue Jays picking between Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney at second base. Melvin Upton figures to sub for Michael Saunders as part of their quasi-platoon, as Toronto adds yet another right-handed power bat to the lineup against Merritt. John Gibbons shuffled his lineup following Travis' injury, stacking his four best hitters in the first four spots and moving Russell Martin down. The bottom-third of Toronto's lineup is much lighter-hitting than we're used to, but the top two-thirds can do plenty of damage with maximized plate appearances.

It's hard to imagine Merritt not being on the shortest of short leashes. Cleveland can finish the series with a win, gaining much-needed off days before the World Series, and the soft-tossing rookie hasn't had a chance to gain Terry Francona's trust in a meaningful way. It may not be an all-hands-on-deck situation, just because the Indians are up 3-1 in the series, but Cleveland's bullpen should be ready at any time.


Cleveland is obviously in a good spot up 3-1 in the series, but if Merritt struggles things get much trickier. Suddenly they'd be relying on Josh Tomlin in Game 6 and Kluber, again on short rest, in Game 7. This is a huge game for Toronto because every game is now a huge one for Toronto, but the Blue Jays are surely aware of how the entire face of the series has the potential to shift if they can snag a win today. PECOTA sees the Blue Jays as sizable Game 5 favorites.


John Lackey is a 37-year-old veteran of 14 seasons in the majors and tonight will be his 22nd career postseason start, tying Hall of Famer Whitey Ford for the sixth-most all time. Julio Urias is a 20-year-old rookie with all of 77 innings as a big leaguer and tonight he'll become the youngest pitcher to start a postseason game in baseball history. How's that for a pitching matchup?

Oh, and the Dodgers are trying to push the 103-win Cubs to the brink of elimination before they can even get back to Wrigley Field.

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Julio Urias), 8:00 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 55% Dodgers, 45% Cubs

Projected Starting Lineups

Cubs vs. Urias (L)

Dodgers vs. Lackey (R)

Dexter Fowler (S), CF

Chase Utley (L), 2B

Kris Bryant (R), 3B

Corey Seager (L), SS

Anthony Rizzo (L), 1B

Justin Turner (R), 3B

Ben Zobrist (S), LF

Adrian Gonzalez (L), 1B

Jorge Soler (R), RF

Josh Reddick (L), RF

Addison Russell (R), SS

Joc Pederson (L), CF

Javier Baez (R), 2B

Yasmani Grandal (S), C

Willson Contreras (R), C

Andrew Toles (L), LF

John Lackey (R), P

Julio Urias (L), P


Dave Roberts called on Kenley Jansen with a four-run lead in the eighth inning last night and then left him in the game for the ninth inning even after the Dodgers had extended the lead to 6-0. Remember that decision–and the fact that Jansen has pitched five times in the past eight days, including a maxed-out 51-pitch appearance–if the stud closer is needed in a big spot tonight. It's been six weeks since Urias completed five innings and nearly two months since he completed six, so expect to see plenty of the Dodgers' bullpen even if the phenom fares well. Pedro Baez, fully rested and never in a hurry, could be key.

Down early and never really in it late, Joe Maddon avoided using any of his big bullpen guns last night. Travis Wood and Mike Montgomery could be limited after combining for 40 pitches, but Aroldis Chapman and the Hector Rondon/Pedro Strop right-handed setup duo is raring to go. It's unclear what type of lineup Maddon will go with versus Urias, because his attempts to "shake things up" in Game 3 resulted in a shutout.


PECOTA sees Game 4 as an even matchup, giving the slight edge to Los Angeles thanks to being at home. My random prediction? Urias and Lackey both exit before the sixth inning and we go deep down the bullpen path again.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I think the Jays chances are much higher if they are allowed to use 2 RF's as you have listed!
Ha, seems wasteful to deploy the extra body in right, though.