The stakes: The Indians haven’t lost two in a row since Aug. 23. The Yankees have to beat them for a second straight game to stay alive. Good news for the Indians: Teams up 2-1 in a best-of-five series go on to win 72 percent of the time (59-22). As suspected when the Indians chose to initially start Bauer over Corey Kluber in Game 1, the Indians decided to bring Bauer back in Game 4 on short rest instead of Josh Tomlin, in part because Tomlin did warm up at one point in Game 3. Good news for the Yankees: They have their best starting pitcher going in Severino (we’ll pretend that wild-card game never happened).
If the Yankees win: Then we get a Game 5 matchup between Kluber and Sonny Gray. Because Tanaka went seven innings on Sunday and there was an off day on Saturday, the Yankees’ bullpen is in great shape. Only David Robertson (nine pitches) and Aroldis Chapman (34 pitches) were used on Sunday, which leaves Chad Green, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Tommy Kahnle all rested and ready to go. The only concern is Chapman’s 34 pitches might make Girardi hesitant to use him for more than one inning.
A veteran All-Star with a strong defensive pedigree whose on-court impact far exceeds box score contributions joins a young core hungry to compete — where have we seen that before?
When Iguodala joined the Warriors, he was coming off two straight seasons in which he ranked among the top 20 in RPM, despite averaging a pedestrian 12.7 points per game over that same span. The casual fan might have seen a dependable and versatile player, but not necessarily a star.
While Curry made the All-Star team and both David Lee and Klay Thompson pumped in more than 18 PPG, Iguodala averaged his fewest points since his rookie season, while not leading the team in any major statistical category. Without Iguodala on the floor, lineups with those three on the court outscored teams by 3.4 points per 100 possessions. In the more than 1,000 minutes with Iguodala, Curry, Lee and Thompson on the floor, the team’s net rating soared to plus-17.1, suggesting that Iguodala’s impact far outweighed anything that shows up on the back of a basketball card.