Sorry, but there’s so much here that’s just wrong or extremely oversimplified:
“when Kluber started, their opponents might as well have left their bats home”
Kluber was generally very good until Game 7 of the World Series, but the only game that Cleveland lost in the ALCS or ALDS was a Kluber short rest start in Game 4 of the ALCS where he was OK but far from shutdown (5 innings, 2 ER’s allowed including one on a HR).
“And as Bryan Shaw came back for a second inning after a 17-minute rain delay, he tired, allowing the fatal blows off the bats of Ben Zobrist …”
That was my initial thought, until I read August Fagerstrom’s post at Fangraphs ( http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/ben-zobrist-will-not-be-underrated-by-the-history-books/ ). Quoting Fagerstrom: “ The pitch Shaw threw was a two-strike, 98 mph cutter located exactly where the heatmaps say to locate against Zobrist … Shaw located a pitch that had worked for him all year, a pitch that was right in line with their gameplan against Zobrist, a pitch harder than almost any he’s ever thrown, and Zobrist did what fantastic hitters do, what World Series MVPs do.” So that was the pitch that Zobrist hit for the key double in the 10th inning. A great two strike pitch, on which Zobrist (to his credit) made hard contact that ended up a double.
“ “ (What about Tomlin?)
This article doesn’t mention Josh Tomlin’s name once. That’s a massive oversight. Prior to Tomlin’s rough game in his short rest start in Game 6 of the World Series, he started 3 postseason games: 15.1 IP, only 3 ER’s allowed, 0 HR’s allowed, 11 K’s to 4 BB’s, and less than 1 baserunner per inning. Even before WS Game 6, Tomlin pitched more postseason innings than Allen ended up pitching. Tomlin came up unexpectedly huge until the wheels finally came off, and that’s from a pitcher who probably wouldn’t have been in a 4 man postseason rotation if both Carrasco and Salazar were healthy.
For that matter, Ryan Merritt — who likely wouldn’t have even been on the roster if everyone was healthy — pitched 4.1 big scoreless innings starting Game 5 of the ALCS.
When the Indians were winning games this postseason, the pitching wasn’t just Kluber, Miller, Allen, and a dash of Shaw. They also had some other starting pitchers putting them in position to be ahead in the mid-innings. And, of course, the offense had to score some runs.
“It was only when Maddon started peeking at Francona’s paper — using Chapman to soak up innings, bringing back Lester on short rest out of the bullpen.”
The aggressive use of Chapman in Game 5 made sense. Putting Chapman into Game 6 with a 5 run lead when you know that you need to win BOTH Games 6 and 7 didn’t. And, of course, Chapman being gassed in Game 7 nearly lost the Cubs in the game. And bringing Chapman back out in the 9th was a very dubious call that, fortunately for Maddon, didn’t lose the game for the Cubs. Chapman was fastball heavy in the 8th inning, and he got pounded because he wasn’t getting guys to swing and miss. So, in the 9th, Chapman reversed course and (very uncharacteristically for him) started throwing mainly sliders. He threw several fat pitches to Santana and Kipnis. Luckily for him, they didn’t take advantage. (See http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-inning-the-cubs-stole/ ).
As for a starter on short rest out of the bullpen, that’s a somewhat common move. (And not one that Francona used this postseason until he used Bauer in the 10th inning of Game 7 after he had to pull Shaw.) Kershaw did in Game 5 of the NLDS this year. Bumgarner famously did it for 5 innings in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. One can go back and find other examples over the years.