Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer — not ace Corey Kluber — will start Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Thursday.
Manager Terry Francona has elected to go with Bauer so he can start Kluber in Game 2 and then again in Game 5 if necessary. Kluber went 18-4 this season and likely will win his second Cy Young Award. He went 5-0 with a 0.84 ERA in six September starts.
Bauer, who nearly cost the Indians a shot at the World Series last year when he cut his finger while repairing a drone, shook off a slow start and went 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 31 starts. He was one of the league’s most dominant pitchers in the second half of the season.
Bauer’s ability to recover more quickly was another factor for Francona, who will start 18-game winner Carlos Carrasco in Game 3.
The AL champions will play the Minnesota-New York wild-card winner in the division series.