Cleveland Indians: Andrew Miller-led bullpen hoping to finish the job
The Indians may have built the bullpen of the future, but it happened purely out of necessity. After starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were shelved by injury late last season, manager Terry Francona was forced to navigate the postseason by trying to get five innings out of his starters before turning games over to his lights-out bullpen trio of lefthander Andrew Miller and righties Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen. It worked so well that Cleveland made it to Game 7 of the World Series despite getting nearly as many innings from its relievers (64 2/3) as its starters (69 1/3) in its 15 postseason games.
With a 162-game schedule and the return of Carrasco and Salazar, that structure isn't likely to be sustainable. But Francona has seen how effective it can be to not hold his relievers, especially a weapon like ALCS MVP Miller, to predetermined roles. The same amoeba-like structure—Miller in the fifth! Miller in the eighth!—could be a difference-maker for the Indians this summer and get them another chance at a title in the fall, to say nothing of the impact it could have on how games are managed and rosters are constructed across baseball in years to come.