CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Indians could have gone with soft-tossing left-hander Ryan Merritt or right-handed flamethrower Danny Salazar for the start in Game 5 of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, but manager Terry Francona decided to stick with Trevor Bauer.
Despite Bauer not making it through the fifth inning in any of his three postseason starts to this point, Francona is sticking by him to start against the Cubs in Game 5 with the Indians having a chance to clinch the World Series Championship for the first time since 1948.
“Ryan did a really good job in his game in Toronto, but Trevor's been a really good pitcher for us for four years,” Francona said. “If we thought that the finger was getting in the way, I understand it. But he's come so far and battled this thing so much that I think his better game is ahead of him.”
In his previous World Series start, a 5-1 Cubs win in Game 2 at Progressive Field last Wednesday, Bauer lasted just 3.2 innings despite limiting the Cubs to two earned runs after allowing six hits and two walks.
Conversely, despite allowing three walks, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta threw 5.2 innings of no-hit baseball before giving up two hits to the Indians and being relieved of duty in the bottom of the sixth. Arrieta surrendered only one earned run and struck out six hitters while pitching the Cubs to a 1-1 tie in the World Series.
Over nine innings of work during the postseason, Bauer has allowed 12 hits and five runs, all earned, with two home runs and four walks against nine strikeouts. And that includes a Game 3 start in the American League Championship Series, where Bauer lasted only two-thirds of an inning because of a finger laceration.
The Indians were hopeful Bauer could pitch less than a week after suffering the injury, but the opposite proved to be true against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 at Rogers Centre.
With one man on base and two out in the bottom of the first inning, blood began dripping out of Bauer’s wound, and he was using his jersey and pants in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons walked to home plate to talk with the umpire, a conversation ensued and lasted several minutes.
The Indians’ medical staff attempted to stop the bleeding, but could not get that done, which forced Francona to pull Bauer from the game.
Although the laceration has healed, Bauer will have the added responsibility of swinging a bat in the National League park tonight, but the Indians are confident he will be able to handle the lumber if necessary.
“We’ll see what he’s capable of doing without doing damage,” Francona said. “We haven’t wanted to push it.”