Reality of Indians bullpen is bleak

Tribe relievers sputtering without Miller

Alex Hooper
May 01, 2018 - 11:40 pm
May 1, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona watches the game from the dugout during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – A select group of Cleveland Indians fans are paying their penance for underappreciating the years, and mostly the innings, that Bryan Shaw gave them.

With Shaw on to greener, rockier pastures, and Andrew Miller on the disabled list, the Indians can truly see just how thin a bullpen can be. Fans are finding a new group of players for which they can rationalize their own hate.

Nothing is dire on May 1st, but reality can set in fast. While it may not be the case that the Indians are doomed without a reliable third reliever behind Miller and Cody Allen, it is becoming a reality that they do not have the depth to replicate what the likes have Shaw have given them in the past.

The lack of depth in the bullpen caused Cody Allen to throw 41 pitches in a non-save situation on Monday, rendering him unavailable on Tuesday.

Without Allen and with Tyler Olson having pitched on two straight days, Terry Francona went to Jeff Beliveau, the 31-year-old who has not had an ERA below 7.47 since 2014. The lefty allowed three runs without retiring a batter.

After expending Beliveau, Dan Otero and Matt Belisle, Michael Brantley’s grand slam extended the game, something which the team may wish never happened in retrospect. The heroics forced Olson back into action for 2/3 of an inning, and the wheels fell off of Nick Goody after 1 2/3 innings.

It did not help that the Indians are facing a stretch where they will make up not just one game, but two in a Thursday double header, before a weekend series in New York.

Goody surrendered back-to-back homers to Rangers slugger Joey Gallo and rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa before handing things off to Zach McAllister. The former was still in the game for one reason.

Desperation.

“Mac was our last pitcher, so we’re trying to – didn’t know if he would get through the inning, but I wanted to try to get part of it because again Mac is our last pitcher,” Francona said. “It’s not that we don’t think Mac can pitch, it’s just that he’s our last one, so we’re trying to go as far as we can.”

There is still time to iron out who pitches when, and perhaps find another body who can throw effective innings the way the organization found Olson last year. With trade rumors that will surround Baltimore Orioles all-star Manny Machado up until the July 31st trade deadline, fans may have to shift their attention to adding another arm.

With three games in the next 48 hours, the Indians will count on Corey Kluber on Wednesday, just like they so often do. Leaning on their ace will carry extra weight with a depleted ‘pen and the ability to give them all another day of rest.

They also will be afforded the ability to use Adam Plutko for Game 2 on Thursday, though that will not help the bullpen any.

Allen will likely not be available on Wednesday either, and the team will consider adding another body somehow.

“We’re going to talk about it,” Francona said. “It’s nice to know that Kluber is pitching tomorrow, but if something were to happen like a line drive or something – we’ll talk about it.”