DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland Indians face off against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night. Here's what you should look out for.
1. Kluber vs. Estrada
The Indians are going with their ace in Game 1, while the Blue Jays are going with the guy they consider their best big-game pitcher, Marco Estrada. Kluber pitched himself into Cy Young contention during the second half of the regular season and was spectacular in Game 2 of the ALDS. Estrada only won nine games this season (J.A. Happ was the Jays' 20-game winner), but has pitched in big playoff games before.
2. Napoli vs. Encarnacion
Napoli has been the driving force for the Tribe this season, on the field (34 HR's) and in the clubhouse, but he had a quiet ALDS. Toronto's first baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, has been hot, hitting .375 in the playoffs. It's time for Napoli to come alive.
3. Overall offense
The Blue Jays seem more formidable at the plate because they score with a bang, going deep more often than the Indians. But the Tribe scored more runs than the Jays during the season, and are far more active on the basepaths. Even Napoli stole a base in the ALDS. They're not about to change their approaches now.
4. Indians bullpen
This is where the Tribe has a significant edge, especially when they get to the back half, with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Miller has been tremendous since coming over from the Yankees at the trade deadline. The question is, can Terry Francona continue his aggressive approach and make it Miller Time early in games, as he did against the Red Sox, in a longer, best of seven series? Which brings me to...
5. Francona vs. Gibbons
Tito has pushed all the right buttons this year, and it's not just about his bullpen. He went with Lonnie Chisenhall vs. David Price in Game 2 of the ALDS and watched Lonnie Baseball prove him right with his first home run off of a lefty this season. Oh yeah, he's been here a few times before, with two World Series rings to show for it. John Gibbons has been here before as well, just a year ago, only to watch his Jays fall to the Royals. This is an interesting managerial showdown.
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