CLEVELAND – (Staff and Wire Service Reports) – Remember the New York Yankees’ stacked bullpen at the start of the season? It is still going strong.
Aroldis Chapman was acquired by the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller landed with the Cleveland Indians five days apart in July deals, and the two former New York Yankees closers/high-leverage-situation left-handers played a major role in their teams’ advance to the World Series.
Miller was 4-0 with three saves, nine holds and a 1.55 ERA in 26 regular-season appearances for Cleveland, and he has not been scored up in 11 2/3 postseason innings while striking out 21. Manager Terry Francona is not hesitant about using Miller early in games and at some length, and the 31-year-old veteran emerged as the American League Championship Series MVP.
Cubs Game 1 World Series starter Jon Lester played with Miller in Boston from 2011-14 and has seen him evolve from a starter into a shut-down reliever.
“You see what he’s able to do with his slider, but not only that, with his fastball,” Lester said. “He locates his heater. He’s not just a rock-chucker up there throwing it and hoping that they swing and miss. He’s a very intelligent guy that thinks through at-bats.
“Even though he was throwing 97 (mph), he’s still thinking through at-bats and going to guys’ weakness. Obviously, having nasty stuff helps as well, but it’s awesome to see.”
Chapman was hit around a bit by both the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Cubs’ first two playoff series, but he excelled after joining Chicago in the regular season. He was 1-1 with 16 saves in 18 save chances, posting a 1.01 ERA. He struck out 46 in 26 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .132 batting average.
“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. He’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”
Maddon asked Chapman to get six-out saves twice this postseason without success, but Chapman got the final five outs of the Game 6 NL Championship Series clincher against the Dodgers on Saturday.
–Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber, rebounding from a knee injury, played his second game in the Arizona Fall League on Monday afternoon and was to fly to Cleveland on Monday night and was added to Chicago’s World Series roster.
“Right now, he’s doing everything well and right,” Maddon said. “He’s given us another option. He’s swinging the bat well. He’s running really well, actually. He’s done some sliding drills, all that kind of stuff to just test the whole thing out.”
Schwarber was 1-for-3 with a double, a run and a walk as the DH in his second game with the Mesa Solar Sox on Monday afternoon after going 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game on Saturday night.
On April 7, Schwarber sustained torn anterior and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee when, playing left field, he collided with Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler while chasing a long fly to left-center that turned into an inside-the-park homer for Arizona’s Jean Segura.
Schwarber could be used as a designated hitter in Cleveland, which has home-field advantage and could host four World Series games.
–Right-hander Danny Salazar, recovering from an elbow ailment, said he will be added to the Indians’ World Series roster.
“If we have another drone incident or anything with model airplanes or anything, we reserve the right till we have to turn (the roster) in,” Francona said.
Salazar and Game 5 ACLS starter Ryan Merritt are candidates to start the fourth game of the Series, Francona said.
“Neither one would pitch a full game, but between those two … especially with Danny, it gives you a guy that made the All-Star team that we could pitch really whenever we want,” Francona said.
Salazar, 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 25 starts this season, has not pitched since being sidelined with right elbow inflammation that first surfaced in early August and caused him to be shut down in early September.
“I don’t know if I’m a starter or reliever, but I’m ready,” Salazar said.
Salazar threw a three-inning simulated game at Progressive Field on Sunday. He was 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 17 starts before the All-Star game, averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
–Right-hander Cody Anderson will not be on the Indians’ World Series roster, Francona said. Anderson was 2-5 with a 6.68 ERA in 19 games (nine starts) in the regular season. He has not appeared in the postseason.
–Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo was 7-for-14 with two homers, three runs and five RBIs in the final three games of the NLCS against the Dodgers, breaking out after starting 2-for-28. He homered against right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 and against lefty Clayton Kershaw in Game 6. Cleveland’s rotation includes no left-handers, although Miller has been used early and often in the postseason.
“‘Riz’ is swinging the bat well, and when Anthony’s swinging the bat well, he hits righties and lefties,” Maddon said. “What’s going on right now is he’s not missing his pitch and he’s making the pitcher throw the ball over the plate. He’s not expanding the strike zone.”
Rizzo hit .305 with 34 homers against righties in the regular season and .261 with eight homers against lefties.