Playoff Reset: Indians vs. Blue Jays ALCS Game 5

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The Game: Cleveland Indians @ Toronto Blue Jays, ALCS Game 5
The Time: 4:00 PM EDT
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Ryan Merritt (Indians) vs. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)

The Upshot:

We now come to the part of the playoffs where Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar‘s absence will be felt by the Cleveland Indians. Due to injures, rather than one of those two excellent, experienced pitchers, Terry Francona will call on rookie lefty Ryan Merritt. Merritt has pitched in four big league games in his life, starting only one of them.

Merritt is no fireballer. He barely breaks 90 with his fastball, which is all but unheard of these days for a young kid. He struck out six and didn’t walk any in his 11 innings of two-run ball in the bigs this year, but to say that Merritt is a blank major league slate at this point is an understatement. The saving grace here is that, due to the Indians loss yesterday in a game that wasn’t terribly close, Francona did not have to use ace relievers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, so Merritt will likely not have the longest of leashes, nor will he have to have one.

Toronto felt pretty good with yesterday’s win but today they will once again play an elimination game. On the hill for them will be Marco Estrada, who took the loss in Game 1, even if he pitched a nice game, allowing two runs over eight innings of work.

The Jays bats looked a lot healthier yesterday than they had in the first three games of the series, but they’ll need to get an early lead in this one given that a rested Miller is likely to come out of the bullpen, perhaps as early as the sixth inning. The mission: get to the kid or the season ends today.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.