Cleveland (3-1) at Toronto (1-3)
When: Wednesday, October 19th 2016
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 4:05 ET | TV: TBS
The Toronto Blue Jays will look to live another day when they host Game 5 of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon. Cleveland ace Corey Kluber failed to eliminate the Blue Jays on Monday when he gave up his first runs of the postseason and the Indians offense failed to get anything going off of Aaron Sanchez and three relievers. Josh Donaldson homered and Edwin Encarnacion delivered a two-run single to help the Blue Jays to a 5-1 victory. Donaldson’s homer was his seventh extra-base hit this postseason – three shy of the franchise record set in 1993 by Paul Molitor. It was the first loss of the postseason for Cleveland, which swept Boston in the AL Division Series before taking the first three games of this matchup. The Indians put their hopes in rookie Ryan Merritt on Wednesday as they look to secure their first World Series appearance since 1997. He’ll be opposed by Marco Estrada.
Pitchers: Indians – Ryan Merritt (Regular season: 1-0, 1.64 ERA) | Blue Jays – Marco Estrada (1-1, 1.65)
Merritt will become the second pitcher in major-league history to start a playoff game after making just one regular-season start in his career. The rookie got the start at Kansas City on September 30th and recorded the victory after allowing just one run and three hits over five innings. Merritt began his career in the majors with three relief appearances over which he gave up one run and three hits in six innings of work.
Estrada also started Game 5 of last year’s ALCS and he prevented the Blue Jays from being eliminated by Kansas City by allowing one run over 7.2 innings. Estrada threw his first major-league complete game at Cleveland in Game 1 of this series but took the loss after allowing two runs and six hits in eight innings. Estrada also helped the Blue Jays avoid elimination in Game 3 of the 2015 ALDS at Texas, giving up just one run over 6.1 innings in his first career postseason start.
The loss of Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco in the Cleveland rotation has caught up to them with Merritt having to start Game 5. Estrada seems to be a big-game pitcher and I expect him to deliver today while the Toronto bats open things up to make this an interesting series.
Pick: Blue Jays -1.5 +115