The Indians’ bullpen did yeoman’s work on Monday night in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, recording 25 of 27 total outs in stellar fashion. Starter Trevor Bauer could only last two-thirds of an inning as the cut on his pinkie finger opened up, forcing home plate umpire Brian Gorman to instruct manager Terry Francona to take him out of the ballgame.
From there, Dan Otero, Jeff Manship, Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller combined for 8 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight. In particular, the back end of Shaw, Allen, and Miller combined for 14 outs with seven strikeouts and a walk while yielding just three hits.
Let’s add to that the bullpen’s Game 1 and 2 performances. In Game 1, Andrew Miller famously got five outs on five strikeouts while Cody Allen pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. In Game 2, Shaw got one out, Miller got six with five strikeouts, and Allen struck out two in the ninth for another save. And let’s then add in the bullpen’s stellar performance in the ALDS against the Red Sox.
Here’s a list of each relief performance in the postseason thus far for the Indians:
That’s a 1.46 ERA with a 12.4 K/9 and a 1.82 BB/9. Also note that in 12 of 19 appearances, manager Terry Francona asked a reliever to get more than three outs.
Here’s the totals for each reliever.
The importance of the Indians’ bullpen is underscored by the fact that the offense has scored only eight total runs in three games in the ALCS. They scored 15 runs in three games against the Red Sox.
The narrative following the World Series appearance by the Royals in 2014 followed by their championship last year is that a good back of the bullpen is crucial to postseason success. That’s true, but it goes deeper than that. Not only must a team have an elite bullpen, but a manger who can adeptly manage that bullpen. Francona has been doing just that for the Indians this October.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Indians will go for the ALCS sweep of the Blue Jays. Corey Kluber will start on short rest. While he’s been terrific in the playoffs thus far, it would not be surprising if Francona had to call on his bullpen for some important innings once again to punch their ticket to the World Series.