Certainly, the Cleveland Indians acquisition of Andrew Miller, arguably the best relief pitcher in the game was a huge get for the team.
If the Indians have a lead after seven innings, it will be a daunting task for the opposition knowing they will have to see Cody Allen and Miller in the last two innings.
However, last night’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins illustrates why we advocated for another arm to be added to the relief corps.
It was clear from the get go that Danny Salazar didn’t have it (we fear an injury may be involved), but when Terry Francona removed him from the game, the Indians only trailed 5-3.
But Austin Adams came in and couldn’t limit the damage, allowing a bases loaded triple. Suddenly, the score was 8-3 and the game was over for all intent and purposes.
Look, we understand that games like this happen and every team goes through them, but the front end of the bullpen has been a problem all year.
Adams throws hard, but hasn’t been able to get hitters out consistently, allowing 10 earned runs in 14-1/3 innings in his various opportunities on the big club.
Zack McAllister has turned into a mess. Recently reactivated after having a “sore hip”, the right-hander was put into an 8-0 game on Sunday and couldn’t finish an inning allowing a double and walk, and then last night gave up five hits in an inning and a third.
He cannot throw any pitch besides a fastball for a strike and if we know that, we are pretty sure hitters know it too. That said, we can’t see him being used in anything more than a mop up role, and the way Francona likes to use his bullpen, that’s not an option.
Cody Anderson has been just thrown into the mix, but he has allowed 70 hits and 12 home runs in 48 innings pitched this season. While he may wind up being a good reliever some day (we think his future is as a starter), he’s not a guy Tito can trust right now.
By the way, Anderson allowed a home run in relief last night.
Kyle Crockett was the only reliever who did the job last night, putting up a zero in 1-2/3 innings.
Jeff Manship is currently on the DL with another “injury”, but this season, he has been the pitcher he has been throughout his major league career, save for the last two months of 2015. And that’s not good.
So, more changes need to be made.
Why not take a look at Shawn Armstrong, who almost headed to Milwaukee in the ill-fated Jonathan Lucroy deal.
Armstrong is 25, and struck out 11 in eight innings of big league work a year ago. And he’s improved his control this year at Columbus.
Maybe take a look at Jeff Johnson, a 26-year-old righty, who has a 2.79 ERA in AAA this year, following a 1.05 ERA at Akron a year ago.
They can’t do worse than what we’ve been seeing.
On another note, the Tribe made a small move yesterday before the deadline, getting OF Brandon Guyer from Tampa for a couple of prospects.
Although many probably don’t know Guyer, it’s a good pick up for Cleveland. He’s a .255 lifetime hitter, but against left-handed pitchers, he’s a beast.
In almost 400 at bats vs. southpaws, Guyer is a .283 hitter with an 848 OPS. So, Francona can put him in RF in place of Lonnie Chisenhall or in CF for Tyler Naquin, and he should give the Tribe quality at bats (not to say the other players mentioned won’t).
The Indians are better than they were last week, but they can still get better. The front office shouldn’t consider the bullpen a finished product.