Score early, score often
The Red Sox would do themselves a favor by taking advantage of Cleveland’s banged up rotation to avoid having these games come down to the bullpen.
Boston’s bullpen was vastly improved this season, finishing with the fifth best ERA in the league. Their core group of relievers really started to gel once they traded for Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara returned and Joe Kelly transformed into a valuable late inning option. As good as this bullpen can be, they can’t match what Cleveland can utilize late in games.
Only the Baltimore Orioles had a better bullpen ERA than Cleveland’s 3.45 mark and this unit received a massive mid-season upgrade when they acquired Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. O’s closer Zach Britton is getting Cy Young buzz, but Miller may have actually had a better season. Britton’s ridiculously low 0.54 ERA is what catches everyone’s eye, but Miller’s 1.45 ERA was next best among pitchers with a least 60 innings pitched, while posting a better batting average against, WHIP and significantly higher strikeout rate. Plus, unlike Buck Showalter, Indians manager Terry Francona won’t be shy about using Miller in non-save situations if the game is on the line.
The top four relievers in Cleveland’s bullpen – Miller, Dan Otero, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw – are about as good as it gets. That group produced a collective 2.16 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 0.95 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 this season. Remember last year when the Kansas City Royals rode an elite bullpen to a championship? This group has been even better.