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In Friday’s Game 1 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona’s usage of reliever Andrew Miller was more conventional than it was at any point in the ALDS — which is to say, it was something we saw often this season from Francona, but it still wasn’t quite something traditional. Miller got the call after starter Corey Kluber, who was closing in on 100 pitches, notched the first out of the seventh inning. This was a spot that Francona often turned to Miller in during the regular season (after being traded to Cleveland at the deadline, nearly a third of his outings began in the seventh) and it’s one that generated a slew of commentary on how Francona was throwing away the rulebook and paving his own way when it came to bullpen strategy.
Compared to how we saw him used in the ALDS, however, Friday night’s call to Miller in the seventh felt downright ordinary, or at least something close to it. We were just one day removed from watching the Los Angeles Dodgers pull a somewhat similar move with Kenley Jansen, after all, and by this point, it feels like ages since we watched Buck Showalter sit Zach Britton while waiting for an opportunity that never came in the AL Wild Card Game. In the ALDS, we saw Miller in the fifth and sixth innings, and to see him come out in the seventh on Friday felt more or less natural — Cleveland turning to their best available pitcher in a time when they needed to preserve a two-run lead against a Toronto lineup that had already threatened to score plenty of times that night.
It was also a reminder that Andrew Miller, in any inning, is a very frightening pitcher with a slider that is equal parts dazzling and baffling. All five of his outs came via strikeout, bringing his postseason total this year to 12 strikeouts in 5.2 innings (with zero runs). Closer Cody Allen took the ball for the ninth and sat the Blue Jays down, 1-2-3, to finish the shutout for Cleveland and notch the 2-0 victory. Game 2 is today at 4:08 p.m. ET.
- While the Indians were celebrating their victory, the Blue Jays were counting missed opportunities.
- Trevor Bauer won’t be starting Game 2 for the Indians today as originally planned — because he cut his finger repairing one of his drones.
- Kenta Maeda will start Game 1 of the NLCS for the Los Angeles Dodgers today, with Clayton Kershaw expected in Game 2, while Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks will take those respective spots for the Chicago Cubs.
- The San Francisco Giants were sent home by the Cubs earlier this week, but do they find themselves in a better spot this offseason than last? Grant Brisbee investigates.
- One thing the Giants might find very helpful — a list of all available free agent relievers.
- Which team earned their city the most discounted pizzas via the "Papa Slam" promotion? Some of the numbers behind the promotion that just never seemed to stop.
- The Blue Jays’ pregame show on Friday offered an ... interesting new stat developed by Gregg Zaun, and now you can find a leaderboard for it on Baseball-Reference.
- If you’re already having Vin Scully withdrawals, check him out on Jimmy Kimmel Live from earlier this week.