If the Toronto Blue Jays want to reach the World Series, they’ll have to make history first. They trail the Cleveland Indians 3-0 in the 2016 American League Championship Series, and they are hoping to begin a historic comeback on Tuesday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours after falling into a seemingly insurmountable series hole, the Blue Jays will be back on the field at Rogers Centre. They’ll host Game 4 of the ALCS against an Indians team that has been perfect in the playoffs, overcoming every obstacle that’s been put in their way.
An already banged up Cleveland rotation took another hit before the start of the series when Trevor Bauer suffered a cut on his pinky while repairing a drone. The laceration bumped Bauer from Game 2 to Game 3, and the starter wasn’t even able to get through an inning on Monday because his finger wouldn't stop bleeding. The Indians managed to win 4-2 with seven different pitchers making an appearance, and they’ll be feeling the effects of recent injuries in Game 4.
Corey Kluber will get the start, pitching on three days’ rest. He’s been the team’s ace ever since he won the AL Cy Young award in 2014, but he’s never pitched with less than four days in between starts.
Cleveland needs to get some length from Kluber, considering how much the bullpen was used on Monday. It’s unknown how the short rest will affect the right-hander, but he’s usually a lock to get deep into a game. Other than the last game of the regular season, which saw Kluber leave the game after four innings because of an injury, he’s gone at least six innings in his last 16 starts.
Kluber was terrific in the series opener, pitching 6.1 shutout innings while striking out six batters. He hasn’t allowed a run this postseason, pitching 13.1 scoreless innings.
Between how well Kluber is pitching and the way the Blue Jays are swinging the bats, Aaron Sanchez might have to be nearly perfect to keep Toronto in the playoffs. He’s set to throw the first pitch of Game 4, making his first start in nine days.
J.A. Happ led the Blue Jays in wins during the regular season, but Sanchez was the ace of the staff, going 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He struggled in his first playoff outing of 2016, allowing six runs in 5.2 innings to the Texas Rangers, and he surrendered four runs in four innings in his only start against Cleveland this year.
Toronto had their best offensive performance of the ALCS in Game 3, but they still only scored two runs on seven hits. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a combined three-for-20 in the series with just one extra-base hit. The Blue Jays’ hitters have a .294 career batting average against Kluber, led by Josh Donaldson, who is hitting .364 with a home run against the right-hander.