Indians bullpen continues to turn with addition of George Kontos

Evan Marshall hits disabled list with elbow inflammation

Alex Hooper
June 19, 2018 - 5:21 pm
Apr 20, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher George Kontos (70) pitches during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – In a year where so many veteran free agents struggled to find work, the Cleveland Indians have become the land of opportunity for a select group. While the 2017 off-season was more kind to relievers than any other position, Cleveland has become the hottest destination for those who missed out.

The Indians have used 17 different relief pitches just less than halfway through the season, and with the promotion of righty George Kontos on Tuesday, they are set to use the 18th. The right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Indians on June 3.

The 33-year-old was designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 25 before being released outright on May 28. Through 19 2/3 innings in 2018, Kontos carries a 5.03 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.

In 350 career outings, Kontos has had a fine career to date with a 3.11 ERA and 3.81 FIP. The righty allowed 25 earned runs between San Francisco and Pittsburgh in 2017, his highest total since 2013, before giving up 11 earned in a short stretch in 2018.

Given the state of the Indians bullpen, Manager Terry Francona was more than impressed with being able to snag a reliever with that track record.

“I give our guys some credit, because, man, rather than sitting there last night panicking because guys seem to be going down, we're getting some guys with Major League experience, playoff experience,” he said. “Hopefully, (Kontos) comes in and, we've all seen relievers that they get a fresh start, they get on a roll, because of how volatile the relievers can be. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing him pitch, yeah.”

The velocity of Kontos’s fastball has dropped steadily since 2016 with San Francisco, correlating with his decline in success. Every pitch in the righty’s repoitore is sitting at a career-low average velocity in 2018, while hitters against him are swinging at the least pitches out of the zone (29.2%) of Kontos’s career, and making the most contact (81.5%). His whiff% (8.5%) is also a career low.

After ‘flicking a nerve’ in his right elbow on Monday, Evan Marshall was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation, paving the way for Kontos. Marshall will have an MRI on the elbow Wednesday morning.

“And he had a little bit of numbness last night, so there was no way that, even if we get a good report back, that he's not going to need the 10 days,” Francona said Tuesday.