Mike Clevinger will not start Game 4 of the ALCS for Cleveland according to Tribe reporter T.J. Zuppe.
Rotation changes: Ryan Merritt will start G4 if Bauer start goes well tonight. If pen needed early, Corey Kluber will start G4, Merrit G5.— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) October 17, 2016
There’s been plenty of speculation in the comment section here at Bluebird Banter about how Cleveland might handle their rotation after Game 3, and now we know for sure that the progression of Monday’s game will impact that decision.
Clevinger, who Cleveland has now cut out of their rotation, made ten starts this season along with seven relief appearances and posted an ugly 5.26 ERA.
Merritt has only pitched in four MLB games in his career and didn’t make his first start until the final series of the season against Kansas City on September 30, where he went five innings while only giving up one run in a win. Most of his season was spent at Triple-A Columbus where he west 11-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts. Merritt doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he also doesn’t walk many hitters, so it will be interesting to see how the Jays approach him if he gets the call.
Kluber meanwhile has pitched very well so far this October as Cleveland’s ace, but he’s never started on short rest in his career. If he starts Game 4, it almost certainly means Terry Francona is lining him up to pitch a potential Game 7.
The biggest hurdle for Cleveland to clear in this series is their lack of rotation depth. If they win Game 3, it’s unlikely to play, but if the Blue Jays can win Game 3, they’re going to be forced to start cutting corner to make up for the loss of Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrrasco. This is where where they’re vulnerable, but Toronto has to make it matter.
Terry Francona officially announced in his post game press conference that Corey Kluber will start Game 4 and Ryan Merritt will start Game 5 (if necessary).