Tito coming into these playoffs with an intimidating 8-0 World Series record.
By Joe Spinosa
Keys Players for the Tribe:
- Trevor Bauer: The 2011 3rd overall pick is taking the bump Game 1 for Cleveland, a big spot for a 25 year old who pitched behind three stars for the majority of the season. With Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber all either ailing or out, Bauer needs to tap into his great potential in order for the Indians to have a shot. When the Indians acquired Bauer in a three-team megatrade in 2012, which included Shin-Soo Choo, Drew Stubbs, and Didi Gregorius, the Indians were expecting an ace; now they are hoping he can mimic the performance of the injured Salazar and Carrasco.
- Andrew Miller: Back in July, Cleveland paid the hefty price of Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and others, for relief-ace extraordinaire Andrew Miller. Flash forward three months and that move proved to be absolutely necessary for the Indians. With a heavily injured starting rotation, the Indians will need strong performances from their relief pitchers, and no one in the MLB can provide better innings late in a ball game than Andrew Miller. Expect Miller to pitch several innings per game to bridge it over for closer Cody Allen to complete.
- Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana: Old friend Mike Napoli put together arguably his best campaign in 2016, combining his superb plate discipline with his plus power. With 34 home runs each, Napoli and fellow former catcher Carlos Santana provide nearly all of the Indians thump in the lineup. Neither slugger gets cheated when at the plate, but they are prone to strikeouts. If Tribe plans to succeed in this series, they cannot afford any unproductive outs from these guys.
Key Players for the Sox:
- David Price: Following high expectations as the marquee free agent acquisition last offseason, David Price had a very up and down season to say the least. On one hand, the great thing about the postseason is that a few great games erase all bad memories. On the other hand, David Price’s playoff track record is nothing short of atrocious, so a subpar performance would only increase Sox fans’ feeling of contempt towards Price even more. Mr. Price, the ball is in your court to prove that you’re worth that $31 million salary.
- Craig Kimbrel: The second most notable acquisition of the 2015 offseason, Kimbrel, like Price, has been a mixed bag. As many Sox fans already know, Kimbrel has been lights out in save situations, but when the game is tied Kimbrel has been very erratic. No one can deny Kimbrel’s stuff. When he is on his game there are few better in the game of baseball. However, he has had his highest walks per nine innings rate since his rookie season, and many Sox fans have been on the verge of cardiac arrest because of his inconsistency. One of the Indians’ strengths is their plate discipline, so Kimbrel’s command is key in late innings.
- David Ortiz: Would any list of Red Sox players be complete without Big Papi? In his final season, Ortiz has put together unprecedented numbers and does not look to stop in October. Unlike Price and Kimbrel, I, along with almost all Sox fans. Have the utmost confidence that Ortiz can build on the legacy he started in 2004 and has built upon in 2007 and 2013. All I can say is the legend continues.
Final Prediction: Sox in 4
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