Idle Indians' relievers find way to stay ready

Marveling at Miller and Co., McAllister and others pitch in simulated setting

Idle Indians' relievers find way to stay ready

TORONTO -- The scene was anything but usual, and that wasn't lost on these Indians relievers -- several of whom took to the field following Saturday's Game 2 victory in the American League Championship Series over the Blue Jays for a game of their own, pseudo-style.

Inactive for much of this postseason, a handful of Cleveland's relievers -- not named Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw or Dan Otero -- pitched to teammates in a simulated-type setting at Progressive Field on Saturday evening in an effort to stay sharp.

ALCS Game 3: tonight at 8 ET on TBS/Sportsnet/RDS

"Usually when you're doing something like that it's on a back field in Spring Training or on an off-day when really no one's there," right-hander Zach McAllister said.

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

Except McAllister and Co. had plenty of onlookers -- from fans to hecklers to Hall of Famers.

"I can remember looking up when I was throwing my bullpen," Jeff Manship said, "and seeing Pedro Martinez up in that TBS booth and he looks down like, 'What is going on right now?'

"We were laughing about it, but I think it was necessary, and I think in the end we were all glad we did it. We just faced about three hitters or so. It's a little tough when you're facing your own hitters just because you don't want to peg them, but at the same time, you have to do it just to keep in shape."

Any discussion about the Indians' bullpen has to begin with Miller. Having one of the best bullpen arms in the game can prove to be the deciding factor in winning a postseason game, a notion Miller has validated time and time again this October. It's downright silly, what he's been able to do, compiling 17 strikeouts in 7 2/3 scoreless innings across four appearances.

"It's like watching a video game," McAllister said. "It's comical."

Must C: Indians' lights-out 'pen

But that's also meant there's been little need for other relief arms.

Shaw and Allen have appeared in four of the five playoff games, while Otero has been in one. Everyone else has been idle. The script could soon change, though, with the Indians facing as many as three games in three days should this best-of-seven series, set to resume tonight, be extended to Wednesday.

Then there's this: Indians manager Terry Francona, though keeping ace Corey Kluber an option on short rest, is plotting a bullpen game for Tuesday's Game 4 in the wake of a depleted rotation that's without Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco.

Bridging the gap to Miller, Allen, Shaw and Otero, then, gets trickier. More names will soon be called, beginning with potential Game 4 starter Mike Clevinger, who has totaled fewer than 18 innings since the beginning of September.

Francona, Indians on bullpen

"We're all hands on deck," Manship said. "We're all ready for our opportunity, and I think we're prepared for it."

Miller has seemingly made everyone better, allowing Francona to utilize his other options in a way that breeds continual success. The numbers are telling since Aug. 1, the day Miller arrived in a trade from the Yankees. Allen, Shaw, Otero and McAllister combined for a 1.82 ERA the rest of the way.

"You bring in a guy like that," Otero said, "and it just lengthens the bullpen."

"You watch what Andrew's done, and it's been the most impressive thing I've ever seen," Manship said. "And, really, I feel like as long as those guys are doing their jobs, I'm totally fine staying down there. We're winning games, first and foremost, and that's all that matters. I definitely would love to get in there, but I understand the situation, too. My time will come."

Jane Lee has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.