With a much needed 5-1 win on Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays are not done fighting Cleveland for the ALCS just yet.
Here we are once again Blue Jays fans. A do-or-die, must-win game with our Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. They’ve been here before, and certainly do not look like they are ready to go home.
Not sure about you guys, but a 3-1 series deficit after losing games 2-1, 2-0, 4-2 certainly doesn’t feel like it’s insurmountable. With any luck and continued excellent pitching we could be looking at the series heading back to Cleveland with Toronto on a bit of a roll.
Why not us?
ALCS Game 5
First Pitch – 4:08 EST
M. Estrada RHP (2016: 9-9, 3.48 ERA) vs. R. Merritt LHP (2016: 1-0, 1.64 ERA)
With Toronto once again in a must-win they will sent trusted starters Marco Estrada to the mound for game five. Outside of his battle with a back injury around the all-star break he was excellent this season, putting together a (9-9, 3.48 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) record.
Over his career he has managed a (0-0, 3.57 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, 6.8 K/9) record when facing Cleveland. This includes a 5 IP, 5H, 3ER performance this season with his wonky back.
Estrada has been very steady at home in the Rogers Centre with his (3-7, 3.57 ERA, 1.211 WHIP, 9.0 K/9), but did not receive much run support.
His career postseason record of (3-2, 2.59 ERA, 0.840 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) has mostly come with the Blue Jays. This also includes his excellent record of (1-1, 1.65 ERA, 0.673 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) in this seasons postseason. Estrada has already faced Cleveland this series and put up a stellar performance of 8 IP, 6H, 2ER in the opener.
After using staff ace Corey Kluber in game four on three days rest, Cleveland manager Tito Francona is turning to rookie left-hander, Ryan Merritt, for game five. Merritt has appeared in four games for the Indians this season, starting one, while putting up a (1-0, 1.64 ERA, 0.545 WHIP, 4.9 K/9) record over 11 IP.
Not much is known about Merritt, but we were able to track down a brief scouting report from MLB Rookie Report to help give us an idea.
According to this report the young lefty put together a 11-8 record, with a 3.70 ERA over 24 starts in Triple-A this season by using his arsenal of what can be described as “average stuff’. He’s not a hard thrower, as can be attested by his 4.9 K/9 so far in the big leagues. But, what he lacks in stuff he makes up for with command and guile.
What would this series be without a little more chirping? Between the interview from Jose Bautista on Sunday, and the Trevor Bauer’s antics in the dugout and post-game scrum, we have been treated to more than our fair share to this point.
Hold up! Bautista wasn’t done, and these words after the game four win, in regards to facing Cleveland’s rookie pitcher.
Bautista on facing Ryan Merritt: "With our experience in our lineup I’m pretty sure he’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are."
— Alykhan Khamisa Ravjiani (AK) (@AlykhanKR) October 19, 2016
Despite his struggles this series, the veteran right-fielder is brimming with confidence about his team’s chances. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some may take it as bulletin board material for Cleveland, however, it appears it’s just good ol’ fashioned gamesmanship. Taking for more than that would be looking to pick a fight where there isn’t one.
*All Pitcher vs Batter Stats provided by ESPN
**Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.