Terry Francona likes to say when you think you have too much pitching, you go out and get more.
That holds true today, because even though the Indians lead the American League in team ERA, team president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff are probably looking for more arms before tomorrow’s trading deadline.
The return of Danny Salazar to form should ease the need for another starting pitcher, and eventually, either Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, or Mike Clevinger will go to the bullpen, but another top notch bullpen arm would help the Indians going forward.
It is pretty obvious that when the Tribe has the lead, Francona has confidence in just three guys, closer Cody Allen, rubber armed Bryan Shaw, and the ultimate relief weapon, Andrew Miller.
Two games this week demonstrated this.
Thursday, with Miller and Shaw unavailable due to usage over the past few days, the skipper went with Trevor Bauer for eight innings and over 110 pitches rather than bring someone out of the group that includes Zack McAllister, Nick Goody, and Dan Otero.
And Bauer was pitching in a 2-1 game.
Bauer thrives on throwing so the pitch count wasn’t the issue it might be for others, but it is hard to imagine Tito staying with his starting into the 8th had Miller or Shaw been available.
The next night, Cleveland had a 9-2 lead after six when Salazar was removed from the game. The Tribe won it, 9-3, but McAllister (7th), Goody (8th), and Shawn Armstrong (9th) all had difficulty recording outs, and the latter two ended the inning in bases loaded situations.
Look, the Indians have post-season aspirations, and they currently lead the AL Central by three games, the concern is keeping the primary relievers fresh for September and October, and that’s why they could use an extra arm in the ‘pen that Francona will trust.
Shaw leads the AL in games pitched with 49. This isn’t a shock, as he routinely is in the top five in the league in appearances. He is blessed with that kind of arm, and in spite of the social media critics when he fails, which isn’t often, he gets the job done.
Allen has made just 42 appearances and usually pitches one inning. He has the traditional closer role, and does it quite well. He has only 19 saves, because the Indians win a lot of games in blowout fashion.
The concern is Miller, and Francona is always talking about reducing his work load, but then he can’t help himself. The guy is that good.
He has been in 45 games, pitching 53-1/3 innings, ranking 5th in the AL in innings for relievers.
Last night, he threw almost 30 pitches, and our guess is he will tell Tito he can go today, but with a tough schedule coming up this week (at Boston for three, New York at home for four), he should get the day off.
That’s why the Indians needs another arm out there, to lessen Miller’s load.
With Boone Logan likely out for the year, the Indians need another southpaw. They also need a reliever that can get right-handed and left-handed hitters out.
That would also allow Francona to shorten games even more, particularly in the post-season.
We believe getting another reliever is the primary goal of the front office before tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM.
It could make all the difference going forward for the Cleveland Indians.