No Carlos Carrasco, no Danny Salazar, now no Trevor Bauer. Insert Ryan Merritt. The young Indians southpaw is set to make his second career start tomorrow afternoon in a huge Game 5, as the Indians are on the brink of their sixth AL Pennant. The scene will be a rowdy Rogers Centre filled to the brink with Blue Jays fans hoping their team can send the series back to Cleveland for a Game 6.
Merritt has pitched only 11 innings in the big leagues. He will become the least experienced starter in LCS history as well as the least experienced starter in any round since Matt Moore started in the 2011 ALCS for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In four total appearances with the Indians this year, the kid allowed only two runs and six hits while striking out six. In his only career big league start, Merritt threw five innings of one run ball against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals. In the minors this year, Merritt had an 11-8 record with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts. One good thing about Merritt that outfielder Tyler Naquin commented on, is that he “attacks hitters.” Merritt has only issued 1.4 walks per nine innings during his six minor league seasons. The lefty comes in and is going to throw strikes, as Merritt said, just “concentrate on the mitt. Concentrate on Roberto [Perez] and pitch.”
According to Indians reliever Dan Otero, Merritt remains “unfazed” by what’s going on around him. After today’s Game 4 defeat, Merritt himself said that he was more nervous standing in front of the small clutter of reporters than he will be tomorrow afternoon on the mound. “Standing right here is a lot more intimidating than on the mound,” Merritt said.
Merritt says that “it’s an honor to be pitching this game.” For a kid that wasn’t even supposed to be on the ALCS roster until Trevor Bauer got into a fight with his drone to starting Game 5 of the ALCS is truly an amazing journey. It’ll sure make one hell of a story if the kid can get the job done for the Tribe tomorrow afternoon!