Indians-Blue Jays ALCS: Corey Kluber to start on short rest in Game 4

TORONTO -- The Indians have had to call an audible for their postseason rotation. Rather than start right-hander Mike Clevinger in Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday, the team will start ace righty Corey Kluber on short rest. Ryan Merritt will then get the ball in Game 5, if necessary.

Game 3 starter Trevor Bauer was forced the exit in the first inning because the cut on his right pinky began bleeding uncontrollably. He cut himself repairing his drone over the weekend. Francona broke it down like this before Game 3:

  • Trevor Bauer pitches well in Game 3: Merritt starts Game 4 and Kluber starts Game 5.
  • Trevor Bauer pitches poorly in Game 3: Kluber starts Game 4 and Merritt starts Game 5.

Since Bauer was knocked out early, the Indians will rely on their bullpen heavily in Game 3. Kluber is a Grade-A innings eater and Cleveland wean on him for some serious length in Game 4, even on short rest. He has never started on short rest in his career.

Merritt, meanwhile, has not pitched since Sept. 30 -- he has done work on the side throughout the postseason -- so he will be well-rested for Game 5. This will be only his second career big-league start.

"They've had me throwing a few simulated game in Arizona in their Instructional League," Merritt said Monday. "I'm just going to go as long as they want me to. When Terry (Francona) comes out and takes the ball out of my hand, that's when I'll be done."

Ryan Merritt will start either Game 4 or 5 of the ALCS. USATSI

Bauer had his start pushed back from Game 2 to Game 3 after cutting his finger repairing his drone. The cut is on top of his pinky finger and while the team hoped he would be able to pitch through it, the bleeding was too heavy.

Clevinger had been expected to start Game 4, though it sounds as though he will be the long man for Games 3-5. He could back up Merritt in Game 5.

Merritt, 24, allowed two runs in 11 big-league innings this season, including one start. He had a 3.70 ERA in 24 Triple-A starts before being called up.

The Indians are stretching thin on the mound because of injuries to Carlos Carrasco (hand) and Danny Salazar (forearm).

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