Boston (93-69) at Cleveland (94-67)
When: Thursday, October 6th 2016
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: TBS
David Ortiz begins his final playoff run as the Boston Red Sox begin a seven game American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. Ortiz had one of his best seasons of his career hitting 38 homeruns and driving in 127 runs. His Red Sox will be going up against an Indians team managed by Terry Francona, who guided the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Boston had a chance to gain homefield advantage in this series, but dropped five of their last six games as closer Craig Kimbrel failed to pitch effectively. Kimbrel suffered the loss in two of those games and issuing six walks in two total innings over his three appearances. The Indians’ have pitching issues of their own, but they are health related. Carlos Carrasco (fractured finger) will miss the playoffs, Danny Salazar (forearm) is limited to the bullpen and Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (quad) starts Game 2 on 10 days’ rest. “He’ll throw an extended side on Tuesday, which will line him up for Friday,” Francona told reporters of Kluber. “Klub really wanted to pitch Thursday. We’ve been talking about it for three or four days, but I just kind of overruled him.” Indians SS Francisco Lindor batted .233 after September 1st and was 6-for-23 against Boston this season. The Red Sox took the season series 4-2, winning two of three in Cleveland.
Pitchers: Red Sox – Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15 ERA) | Indians – Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26)
Rick Porcello showed Cy Young signs in the second half of the season and went 8-1 over his final 11 starts, allowing three or fewer earned runs in each of those outings. Porcello had a string of 11 straight starts completing at least seven innings come to an end in his last two starts as he surrendered a total of six runs and 16 hits in 12.1 innings against Tampa Bay and Toronto. Porcello earned a home win over Cleveland on May 22nd and is 10-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 22 career starts against the Indians – mostly with the Tigers.
Trevor Bauer will get the nod in Game 1 due to the injuries in the rotation. He might have pitched fourth in a fully healthy Cleveland rotation and struggled down the stretch with a 7.20 ERA in his last five starts. The lone quality start came Saturday, when he held Kansas City to three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out nine in six innings. Bauer faced Boston twice this season – once in relief – and allowed a total of six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
This pitching matchup is one-sided. Bauer is not ready to be an ace of this staff and he will struggle against a potent Boston offense. Porcello has been great all season and I expect him to handle the young Indians lineup.
Pick: Red Sox -140