TORONTO -- Cleveland Indians pitcher Ryan Merritt has thrown only 11 innings in his four appearances at the Major League level, but should the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays extend to Game 5 at Rogers Centre.
With the Indians holding a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series, Merritt could have a chance to close out the ALCS, something Cleveland has not seen in 20 years.
“It’s an honor to be pitching in the playoffs,” Merritt said. "It’s my first year in the Major leagues, and it’s a great feeling that Terry Francona trusts me to go out and try to win a baseball game for them in the playoffs.”
Merritt pitched for the Indians just twice before September call-ups, but made a critical start during the final week of the regular season.
With the Indians playing for home-field advantage over the Boston Red Sox for the American League Division Series, Merritt took the ball and allowed just three hits and one earned run with no walks and four strikeouts over five innings of work in a winning effort.
“My first start in Kansas City, obviously that went well for me,” Merritt said. “And it gives me confidence that I can get outs as a starter in the Major leagues. Just pitching that game, getting that opportunity gives me a lot of confidence going forward, the next season, the next game.”
Originally, the Indians were planning to leave Merritt off the ALCS roster, but injuries continued to besiege Cleveland’s rotation.
Already without Carlos Carrasco (broken bone in right hand) and Danny Salazar (right forearm strain), the Indians experienced another issue when ahead of Game 1 of the ALCS at Progressive Field, it was announced that Trevor Bauer would be scratched from Game 2 because of a lacerated finger suffered while performing “routine maintenance” on a drone.
When that injury happened, Merritt was added to the roster, and is ready for anything against the Blue Jays.
“As many as they want me, really,” Merritt said when asked how many innings he can throw against the Blue Jays. “They’ve had me throwing a few simulated games in Arizona in their instructional league. I went four innings, threw a bullpen after and still felt like I could keep going.
“It’s the playoffs, my first time in the playoffs, but it’s awesome that they trust me to be in the situation. And I’m just going to go out there and have fun, enjoy it, and try to give my team the best chance to win.”