Ian Kinsler is making himself a lot of friends in Detroit. In his second game as a Tiger, Kinsler knocked in both of the Tigers’ runs via a fourth inning solo home run and a walkoff single in the 10th to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Kansas City.
After Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and Royals starter Jason Vargas allowed only one run in seven, the bullpens were big factors in this one. First up was new Tigers closer Joe Nathan, who allowed a single and then walked two to load the bases and then allowed a sac fly to send the game into extra innings. In the 10th, Ned Yost decided to go with Tim Collins even though Greg Holland was fresh, having only faced one batter two days ago. Collins walked two and then gave up the game-winning hit to Kinsler. Or game-losing, depending on your point of view.
So, two games between the Tigers and Royals and two games where Ned Yost’s bullpen usage played a big role (on Monday Yost went with Wade Davis to start a tied ninth inning and only called on Holland once two men were on base).
The bullpen is supposed to be the Royals’ greatest strength, but Yost is doing his best to neutralize that in the early going.
The story of the Indians postseason cannot be told without talking about injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. They have forced Terry Francona to lean even harder on his bullpen than he otherwise may have and have cause the Indians to press rookie Ryan Merritt into service.
But Cleveland will be getting at least one of their starters back: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway that Danny Salazar will be part of the World Series roster.
Salazar has not pitched since early September due to a strained right flexor muscle, but according to Callaway, Salazar is ready to throw 65-70 pitches in a game. That could mean a start, probably in Game 4 after Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Merritt was a possible Game 4 starter, but he could either pair up with Salazar in a tandem start or serve in long relief.
Cubs’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber missed virtually the entire 2016 season due to torn knee ligaments, but he has been working his way back to health more quickly than initially expected. Indeed, he has been playing for the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League, serving as a DH. Many have speculated that the Cubs will activate him for the World Series.
Today, at his World Series media session, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that reports from Arizona are good on Schwarber and that the he will fly to Cleveland to join the team after tonight’s game in Arizona. Maddon says the team will make a decision on activating him once he arrives. The Cubs have until tomorrow morning to set their World Series roster.
Our guess is that Schwarber will get the call and will serve as the DH for the Cubs in Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7 in Cleveland. If so, a lost season could very quickly turn into a storybook season for the Cubs’ young slugger.