Ryan Merritt’s teammates confident in him for ALCS Game 5
Tribe pitcher Ryan Merritt will make his second career start today in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
MLB.com reporter Anthony Castrovince sets the scene for Game 5 and shares the Indians thoughts on Merritt’s start.
Merritt, a 16th-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, is not a big guy, at least not for a big league pitcher. He stands 6 feet and weighs 180 pounds. He’s much more a strike-thrower (108 walks in 684 1/3 Minor League innings) than a strikeout artist (471 Ks, or 6.2 per nine innings). He throws an assortment of pitches — primarily a fastball in the high 80s and a changeup, as well as a cutter and a curveball. He profiles for all the world like an old-school crafty lefty, the kind who won’t overpower you but sure can frustrate you.
Even though Merritt has only pitched eleven innings in the big leagues, he is unfazed by the magnitude of today’s game — he isn’t worried about the pressure or how long he’ll have to pitch. Not only is Merritt confident in himself, but his teammate’s are confident in him as well.
“It’s not that he’s naïve,” reliever Dan Otero said. “It’s just that he’s not really into baseball history or anything like that. None of what’s going on fazes him.”
“I think it would be awesome,” Otero said, perhaps stating the obvious. “Remember, he was a big part of us getting home-field advantage. He won that big game for us in Kansas City, when home field was kind of on the back burner for us. He gave us those five good innings against Kansas City and we started to think, ‘OK, maybe we can get the home field, after all.'”
“He’s our secret weapon,” backup catcher Chris Gimenez insisted. “Just because he’s unknown. If there’s one guy that’s not going to be rattled by the situation, it’s him. To him, it’s just another day.”
Maybe Merritt will be the Tribe’s secret weapon.
To the Indians, at this point, this really is just another day. Eleven career innings? Whatever. It’s an appropriately ridiculous arrangement on a team that has routinely turned the ridiculous into the sublime.
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-TribeVibe contributor Hailey Ellis