The rain gave an extra day for the Indians bullpen to rest. Between that and Corey Kluber‘s long outing in Game 2, Terry Francona should be able to, once again, use Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in liberal fashion should starter Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA) falter or run out of gas. And who knows what Tomlin will give them. He started the year well, then cratered in the second half, leading to him being demoted to the bullpen. He’s only starting now because of all of the injuries to Cleveland’s starters. Since coming back to the rotation, however, he has been pretty solid, posting a 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings in four September starts.
Not that it’s all about pitching: the Indians bats have been pretty darn fierce and have them poised to sweep Boston this evening. To stop that, John Farrell looks to Clay Buchholz. Buchholz, once the Sox’ ace, was likewise demoted to the bullpen in 2016. Several times, in fact. But, like Tomlin, he’s been solid since returning to the rotation late in the season (3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five September starts). On the other hand, Buchholz has been pretty terrible in Fenway Park this season and several hitters in the Indians’ lineup have had success against him, though none in anything approaching significant sample sizes.
The Red Sox’ backs are against the wall. To survive, they’re going to need a lead by, say, the fifth inning. If they don’t have it, they’re looking at Miller and Allen and that’s not a duo you want to face while trying to come back from behind. If they cant hit Tomlin hard, today will likely be their last game of 2016.