Cleveland carries 2-0 lead into Game 3 of ALCS in Toronto
By Alykhan Ravjiani
The Indians will look to take 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series, while the Blue Jays will attempt to claw their way back into the series when play resumes tonight at Rogers Centre.
The next three games (Game 5 will be played Wednesday, if necessary) are scheduled to be played in Toronto, where the Blue Jays went 46-35 in the regular season and are 2-0 so far in the postseason. Right-hander Trevor Bauer will start for the Indians, while right-hander Marcus Stroman will counter for the Jays.
Why he'll win: Bauer limited Toronto to one home run in the regular season, and he was able to force the Blue Jays' lineup to expand the zone, resulting in high strikeout numbers. Toronto finished the regular season 9-34 when it did not hit a home run, and Bauer allowed just 20 homers the entire year. Bauer also pitched better on the road this season, finishing with a 3.67 ERA in visiting ballparks.
Pitcher beware: Bauer had his initial start from Game 2 pushed back due to a cut on his right pinkie finger sustained while he was fixing a drone, and it remains to be seen if that will affect his ability to pitch. Bauer's numbers also plummeted in the second half, as the 25-year-old put up a 5.36 ERA and allowed 12 of his 20 home runs after the All-Star break. In Game 1 of the AL Division Series -- Bauer's first career postseason start -- he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Bottom line: Bauer can put the Blue Jays in a major hole with a solid performance, and the Indians' bullpen will provide him with ample support if needed after an off-day Sunday.
Why he'll win: After a rough first half of the season, Stroman came alive and pitched his best baseball for the Blue Jays down the stretch, holding a 3.28 ERA after Aug. 1. The Duke product carried that into the AL Wild Card Game, in which he held the Orioles to two runs over six innings. Stroman led the Majors in ground-ball percentage (60.1 percent), and he induced 11 ground balls while striking out nine batters in his last start against Cleveland on Aug. 21.
Pitcher beware: While Stroman has shown a penchant to get deep into games, he also struggles against opponents the third time through the order. Opposing batters have an OPS of .847 and have hit 14 of their 21 home runs against the Medford, N.Y., native the third time through the lineup.
Bottom line: A performance similar to Stroman's two starts against Cleveland this season would go a long way toward Toronto creeping back into this series. Stroman typically performs well under the spotlight and in front of the Rogers Centre crowd, but the Blue Jays will also have to help him out on offense. Toronto has scored just one run so far in the series.
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.