The 2016 American League Championship Series couldn’t be going much better for the Cleveland Indians, who own a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays with the series shifting to Toronto.

The Blue Jays aren’t necessarily in a must-win situation in Game 3, but their chances of reaching the World Series will decline significantly if they find themselves in an 0-3 hole. In that respect, their return to Rogers Centre on Monday night couldn’t be coming at a better time.

While Cleveland took the first two games, little has separated the Blue Jays and Indians. Cleveland’s wins came by a total of three runs, and the two teams have registered 10 hits apiece.

The close margins of the series so far should give Toronto hope that it can turn things around and potentially head back to Cleveland up 3-2.

Game 3 is a great opportunity for the Blue Jays to take back some momentum.

The pitching matchup favors Toronto. Marcus Stroman will take the mound for the Blue Jays against Trevor Bauer. Overall, Stroman has performed better this year than Bauer, with their respective numbers below, courtesy of FanGraphs:

There are also question marks regarding Bauer’s throwing hand after he cut his right pinkie finger while repairing a drone. Granted, his biggest misstep of the past week was his pick for the best Star Wars movie, per NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski:

The fact that Bauer will pitch Monday night leads one to believe the laceration is only a minor issue. Still, the 25-year-old can be wildly inconsistent from one inning to the next when he’s 100 percent. The thumb injury adds another variable to an already unpredictable pitcher.

While the Blue Jays should get back in the series with a Game 3 win, they have a long way to go before they punch their ticket to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1993.

For one, the trio of Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t driven in a run during the first two games of the ALCS. Bautista is also batting 0-for-6 for the series and 3-for-21 with 10 strikeouts for the postseason.

According to Vice Sports’ Mike Vorkunov, Bautista is in full conspiracy mode as well:

Toronto can still win the series with a slumping Bautista—such is the depth of sluggers in the team’s offense. But Joey Bats was one of the biggest heroes for Toronto during last year’s ALCS run, and his bat is sorely missing in the Blue Jays lineup.

Far more concerning for the Jays is navigating through Cleveland’s dominant bullpen. The quartet of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and Dan Otero has allowed two runs in 16.1 combined postseason innings.

Miller has been particularly filthy. Giving up Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield appeared to be a costly price for Cleveland to acquire the left-hander at the trade deadline, and so far, it’s one of the shrewdest trades of the season.

Miller and Indians manager Terry Francona are forcing fans to rethink the value of a dominant middle reliever. While Allen is coming out to finish games in the ninth inning, it’s clear he’s not the most important member of Cleveland’s bullpen.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy questioned why Blue Jays batters are even stepping up to the plate when Miller is on the mound:

Taking an early lead can help Toronto negate Miller’s impact, and jumping on a rotation that features Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger is achievable. But the middle of the order will have to set the tone.

Going up two games, however, provides Cleveland with some margin for error should Bauer or Clevinger have a dreadful start Monday or Tuesday before it’s Corey Kluber’s turn in the rotation again.

Between the timely hits they’re getting from their offense and their untouchable late-inning relievers, the Indians should be able to close out the ALCS when it heads back to Cleveland.

Prediction: Indians in six

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