CLEVELAND – The last time the baseball world caught a glimpse of Trevor Bauer’s mangled pinkie finger on his right hand, it was grotesquely dripping blood onto the pitching rubber in Toronto during the A.L. Championship Series.
Unlike most horror movies, however, Bauer has no plans for a sequel.
The Cleveland Indians pitcher is confident the mound will be blood free when he starts Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs. Bauer tested the finger – notoriously injured while he was tinkering with a drone – during a simulated game on Monday. He wore gauze over the finger – a no-no during an actual game – just to see if it could withstand the pressure placed on it when Bauer grips the ball and lets it rip.
When Bauer unwrapped the finger after throwing about 20 pitches, he exhaled.
“We took it off and it was completely white, so it was a non-issue,” Bauer said.
That was hardly the case in Game 3 of the ALCS, when Bauer lasted all of two outs and 21 pitches, the still-fresh wound ripping open and caking Bauer’s jersey, pants and portions of the mound in blood. The Indians won anyway, relying on six relievers to get the final 25 outs in a 4-2 victory. Bauer is confident he’ll be able to carry more of a workload this time around against Chicago’s Jake Arrieta.
“I’m prepared,” said Bauer, who went 12-8 with a 4.26 ERA in the regular season. “I’m going to go out there and execute to the best level of my ability, and it’s going to be what it’s going to be.”
Arrieta showed his remarkable run to the 2015 Cy Young was no fluke, though the dominance that came to him so easily last season was much more difficult to come by this summer. Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 2016, though he struggled at times down the stretch, posting a 5.01 ERA in his final four regular-season starts. He’s been OK if hardly spectacular in the playoffs, getting a no-decision in Game 3 of the Division Series against San Francisco and surrendering four runs in five innings of a Game 3 loss to the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Arrieta’s focus will be trying to keep Cleveland’s running game in check. The Indians led the American League with 143 stolen bases. Opponents were safe on 23 of 26 stolen base attempts against Arrieta during the season and manager Joe Maddon is considering using Willson Contreras at catcher instead of Miguel Montero, who typically catches for Arrieta.
“They do run, and Willson is one of the best young throwers in the game right now,” Maddon said. “You have to balance out how comfortable you think Jake’s going to be throwing to him versus Miggy.”
Contreras threw out 13 of 35 attempted base stealers during the regular season, compared to just 7 of 66 by Montero.
“At the end of the day, they are good as base runners and we are good at preventing that when everything is in place,” Maddon said. “So we are considering that right now.”
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