The 2016 season has been a bumpy ride for the Cleveland Indians, but thanks to their manager and their team chemistry the Tribe have reached the World Series.
The biggest part of this team has been the decision making skills of manager Terry Francona. Tito has had plenty of experience in these high pressure situations and it has shown, most importantly when it comes to pitching decisions.
In Game three the Indians started Trevor Bauer, however after two thirds of an inning his stitches had ripped out and he was unable to continue. Tito spent the next 8 1/3 innings putting his best relief pitchers through more innings than most would be use to, however they answered the call by only allowing two runs on seven hits.
One of the most surprising, but important decisions of Game 3 came in the 7th inning when Francona brought in closer Cody Allen to help get the Tribe out of a tough inning. Not only was Allen able to get out of that inning, but he also got the first two outs of the eighth inning as well.
One of the biggest reasons that the Indians are headed to the World Series is the play of Andrew Miller. The righty was acquired by the Tribe at the trade deadline, and has proved to be a major piece of the puzzle for the team. He was awarded the ALCS MVP award, but promptly told everyone that he did not deserve it, and that the team around him was the reason he was able to accomplish what he did.
While Game 3 was a fantastic example of Terry Francona’s genius from the dugout, the Game 5 performance of young Ryan Merritt was something that can help the team throughout the next round. Before the game Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said that Merritt would be “shaking in his boots” when he took the mound at Rogers Centre on Wednesday evening. The opposite occurred as the young lefty threw 4 1/3 shutout innings before handing the game off to the rock-star bullpen. With unproven players like Merritt, only one major league start before Wednesday, showing that they can step into the spotlight when needed, the Tribe look poised to give their next opponent a difficult test.
It may be team chemistry and it may have a little to do with the man calling the shots, but there is one thing for sure, the underdogs are still among the teams that have a shot at bringing home the title. Their opposition will easily be the favorites in this upcoming series, but that has not seemed to mind the Indians before, and it should not bother them now.