Fagerstrom: The game plan: How the Indians almost won it all

From August Fagerstrom at FanGraphs on November 4, 2016:

What will be remembered about this year’s postseason, for the rest of history, is the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. It hadn’t happened in 108 years, if you didn’t hear. That’s the big takeaway here. Beyond that: Game Seven. Game Seven was crazy! We’ll be talking about Game Seven for years.

The other part of the equation is the Cleveland Indians, and the story that seems most likely to be remembered about them was how far they got with so relatively little. The team with the super-rotation at the beginning of the season that was left with scraps at the end. Despite missing two of their three best starters in Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, Cleveland held three of baseball’s most threatening lineups in Boston, Toronto, and Chicago to 42 runs in 15 games, good for a 2.69 ERA, while tossing a record-setting five shutouts. They rode Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen as far as they could, but even guys like Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt (?!) handed the ball off to the Millers and the Allens with a lead more often than not.

Throughout the postseason, every Indians pitcher was quick to mention the game plan, the approach, and the way catcher Roberto Perez attacked the hitters. Part of that is typical athlete speak, sure. Almost always, these guys are going to deflect and give credit to their teammates. But what does that really mean? What goes into a pre-series, or even pre-game scouting report? Who’s the brains behind that operation? How many brains are behind that operation? And what happens when it makes its way out onto the field?

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Originally published: November 7, 2016. Last Updated: November 7, 2016.