Tale of the Tape: Tomlin, Buchholz set for G3

Both hurlers look to build on September success

Tale of the Tape: Tomlin, Buchholz set for G3

The pressure rests on the Red Sox, facing an 0-2 deficit, as they return home to Fenway Park to take on the Indians in Game 3 of the American League Division Series (TBS, Monday at 6 p.m. ET).

The elimination game will feature two starters who were thrust into the third spot in their teams' postseason rotations down the stretch. The Red Sox turn to Clay Buchholz, while the Indians try to wrap up the series with veteran Josh Tomlin on the hill.

Season stats
Buchholz: 8-10, 4.78 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 93 K's
Tomlin: 13-9, 4.40 ERA, 174 IP, 118 K's

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CLE 5, BOS 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 CLE 6, BOS 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 CLE 4, BOS 3 video

Buchholz against the Indians
2016: 0-1, 7.20 ERA, 10 IP, seven K's, two HRs
Career: 2-2 in seven games (all starts), 4.85 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 24 K's, 18 BB
Loves to face: Mike Napoli, 3-for-15, one HR, one RBI, four K's
Hates to face: Carlos Santana, 4-for-8, two 2Bs, one HR, three BB, four RBIs

Why he'll win: Buchholz has been somewhat of a revelation since he returned to the starting rotation for the stretch run. In five September starts, the right-hander compiled a 3-0 record with a 3.14 ERA. Opposing batters recorded just a .244 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) against him during that stretch -- the 11th lowest of any AL pitcher with at least five starts over the season's final month.

Pitcher beware: Buchholz cannot afford to walk batters in a potent Cleveland lineup that scored 10 combined runs against Boston aces Rick Porcello and David Price in Games 1 and 2. Buchholz has an 0-5 record in games in which he has walked at least three batters, and Boston went 3-6 in those games.

Bottom line: Buchholz will need to be an unlikely hero after high-priced aces Porcello and Price each faltered to begin this series. The right-hander is still looking for his first decision in a playoff game after five previous starts, in part because he has completed six innings just once in those outings. The Red Sox will likely need more longevity from Buchholz to have a chance.

Tomlin against the Red Sox
2016: 0-1 in his lone start, 7 2/3 IP, three ER, three K's, zero BB, two HRs
Career: 2-3 in seven games (six starts), 5.49 ERA, 41 IP, 22 K's, 11 BB, seven HRs
Loves to face: David Ortiz, 3-for-17, three HRs, six RBIs
Hates to face: Jackie Bradley Jr., 3-for-7, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Why he'll win: Tomlin has been moved up to a Game 3 start after the injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, but he already proved in September that he can fill in ably. After posting an 11.48 ERA in August, Tomlin went 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts and limited opposing batters to a .230 BABIP -- even lower than Buchholz's mark in the final month.

Pitcher beware: Tomlin's head-to-head with Ortiz tells you all you need to know about what Tomlin must avoid: giving up the long ball. Tomlin coughed up 36 home runs this season -- second only to the Angels' Jered Weaver among AL pitchers -- and that could be a big issue against a Red Sox lineup that loves to mash at home. He did not allow a single home run, however, over the month of September.

Bottom line: Corey Kluber's stellar seven-plus-inning start in Game 2 meant the Indians did not have to use Cody Allen or Andrew Miller after both relievers gave max effort to win Game 1. With each of those weapons rested and available for Terry Francona in Game 3, Tomlin simply has to go through the Red Sox's lineup a couple times without giving up the back-breaking home run -- something he did very well down the stretch -- before handing the ball off to his bullpen.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.