Bullpen depth gives Tribe options for using Miller

Bullpen depth gives Tribe options for using Miller

CLEVELAND -- Andrew Miller has garnered most of the attention this postseason for his overpowering outings and the creative way Indians manager Terry Francona has deployed the relief ace.

Prior to the Tribe's 2-1 win in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays on Saturday, Miller said his role would probably be different if Cleveland did not have relievers Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero also offering flexibility and sound production. Without their success, Miller might not be the any-inning leverage arm he has been for the Tribe.

Indians postseason gear

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14 CLE 2, TOR 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 15 CLE 2, TOR 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 17 CLE 4, TOR 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 18 TOR 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 5 Oct. 19 CLE 3, TOR 0 video

"I don't think it would be possible," Miller said. "I think the flexibility of everybody, whether that's Dan or Bryan maybe pitching some different innings thay they were before I got here, or just having Cody being able to get multiple outs, whatever it is, I think that flexibility allows us to move around and let's Tito put guys in better situations."

In Game 1 on Friday night, Miller recorded five outs -- all strikeouts -- to bridge the gap from the seventh to the ninth inning, in which Allen locked down a 2-0 victory. Heading into the second game of the ALCS, Miller had logged 5 2/3 shutout innings with 12 strikeouts, while Allen had turned in four shutout innings with six punchouts. Shaw and Otero were the only other relievers to appear in the postseason to that point.

Francona agreed that he could not use Miller in the manner he does without those other options.

"No, you couldn't," Francona said. "Maybe I probably should say it more often, because without one or the other, or all of them, you're not going to get where you want to go. Andrew has gotten a lot of notoriety for what he's done, as he should. But, I think Cody, before it's over -- Shaw, Otero -- will have theirs, too."

Other items of note from Saturday

• During the introductions prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, the Indians not only recognized their players and coaching staff, but the clubhouse workers, training staff, team chefs and other members of the behind-the-scenes operations. That was Francona's idea, because he wanted the team's entire staff to be honored for their part in helping the ballclub reach this point.

"I wanted everybody," Francona said. "We always talk about 'we,' and I wanted it to be 'we.' ... I really enjoyed it and I think they did. I know it was a long line. I mean, I've never seen a line like that to the foul pole. You shake everybody's hand, you might pull a hamstring. But, you know what? They seemed to enjoy it and they work their [tails] off. I mean, we don't have the highest payroll. I know that. But, we do some things around here that are good. And it's impossible for you guys to see it."

• In light of Abraham Almonte's ineligibility for the postseason -- part of his suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance -- the outfielder is back home for the offseason. While Almonte suited up for the Tribe in the second half, he was not permitted to be with the team during its run through October.

"It was hard for him. He didn't want to leave," Francona said. "He's a really conscientious kid. But, we kind of told him flat out, 'You knew this day was going to come. So did we. Get through this, just like you do everything else, and when you come back next year, you'll be ready to go and it will be in the rear-view mirror.'"

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.