Tribe 9: Indians finding reliable bullpen options in short term

Neil Ramirez and Oliver Perez finding some consistency

Alex Hooper
June 06, 2018 - 6:11 pm
Jun 1, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Neil Ramirez (58) pitches in the fifth inning against Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


Baseball moves at its own pace, at least to this point in time, so let us pace ourselves through nine innings of thoughts from the Indians’ 3-1 win over the Brewers.

Top 1: Nobody need speak of the Indians’ league-worst bullpen to start the season, but there has been hope in recent days that things can be said of that same pen looking up. While things haven’t been all good, righty Neil Ramirez has emerged as a solid setup option.

Bottom 1: Ramirez was the first reliever out of the bullpen for Manager Terry Francona in the 8th inning on Wednesday, allowing a leadoff single to Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich before striking out former Indians first baseman Jesus Aguilar. That was all for Ramirez, who pushed his line since May 28th to 4 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and no earned runs, while striking out six over five outings.

Top 2: It was the second game in as many nights that Ramirez was used as a bridge between the starter and closer Cody Allen. That is just home Ramirez wants it.

Bottom 2: “I’m a guy that likes to throw a lot. I like getting out there,” the righty said. “I’m here just to get outs. I’m happy to pitch in any situation. For him to have some trust in me later in games, it’s awesome.”

Top 3: Recently added lefty Oliver Perez spelled Ramirez to face the left-handed Travis Shaw, adding a strikeout to his early total. Since being added to the roster on June 2nd, Perez has allowed two hits and struck out four in 2 2/3 innings.

More high-leverage innings should be coming their way.

Bottom 3: “Well, when guys are starting to back up and start to be consistent, I think they earn pitching in leverage situations,” Francona said. “Just try to, like we always do, put out there who we think has a chance to succeed and in the right positions.”

Top 4: Francona said pre-game that even with the revolving door of relievers so far this season, he expects Perez to have a long-term stay in Cleveland.

“I think he’s a major-league pitcher that got caught—he was in Triple-A and he had his out on June 1, which a lot of guys do, and we took advantage of that,” the skipper added. “I think he’s really going to help us.”

Bottom 4: Though Ramirez and Perez were Francona’s go-to arms in recent days, the manager insists that he will not ‘run’ from veteran relievers Dan Otero and Zach McAllister despite their early-season issues.

Otero currently sports a 6.97 ERA after his last outing that came on June 6th, when the righty faced Brian Dozier and allowed a double before exiting. McAllister pitched a day later, allowing a hit over 2/3 of an inning.

Top 5: Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco has not quite been himself at the beginning of 2018, entering the game with a 4.50 ERA. Things began similarly on Wednesday as Cookie was forced to escape a two-out rally in the bottom of the 2nd, allowing three straight singles before retiring Lorenzo Cain with the bases loaded.

Bottom 5: Carrasco had struck out four of the first six hitters he had faced before allowing the hits, but said he corrected himself before facing Cain.

“I think it was the way I talked with Gomes and all the guys,” Carrasco said. “Sometimes you have to be a little more aggressive. Bases loaded after two outs, it came back to me, what was going on for the last two games. It can’t happen right here. I just got him to fly out to right field for the third out.”

Top 6: As a member of the Kansas City Royals, Cain had given Carrasco troubles over the year, going 13-for-36 with a double and a triple in his career. The center fielder finished 2-for-4 on the day, all against Carrasco, but did not score following either base hit, and grounded into an inning-ending double play in the 7th.

Bottom 6: Francona hypothesized that the high-leverage out recorded early on pushed Carrasco forward through the next five innings.

“I think you also, because he had to reach back for his last stuff, I think he found his best stuff and then for the rest of the game he was really good,” Francona said. “Breaking ball, change up, he was crisp, that was a nice bounce-back from the other day.”

Top 7: Rajai Davis’s second run with the Indians could be nearing a close as Brandon Guyer and Tyler Naquin each are set to return from the disabled list, and Greg Allen providing the speed and defense that have elongated the 37-year-old’s career.

Bottom 7: Davis proved his worth again in what could be his last start in a Cleveland uniform, going 2-for-3 with a walk, and stealing three bases. He became the oldest Indians player since 1908 to steal three bases in a game, and the third player in franchise history to steal 10-or-more bases in his age-37 season or older joining Omar Vizquel (19 in 2004) and Nap Lajoie (18 in 1912, 14 in 1914).

Top 8: “I just went out there trying to do what I do, be a threat out there and get in scoring position,” Davis said. “Obviously, it’s easier to score when you’re at second as opposed to first.”

Bottom 8: “It was a day where because of the way their guy pitched, backward, reversed splits because of his changeup and breaking ball, I thought it was a good day for him to play,” Francona added. “But his first time up, he really hit that ball well and got nothing for it. He had good swings all day.”

Top 9: Jose Ramirez’s RBI double in the 5th inning proved the winning hit in the game, and pushed the third baseman into the MLB lead in extra-base hits at 38. His 38 XBH are tied for second-most in franchise history through 60 team games, trailing only Albert Belle (40 in 1994).