Allen Proves He Belongs In Cleveland
After a disappointing 2012 Cleveland Indians season the organization is at a crossroads to decide how to progress with the organization, not just for the 2013 season but several seasons to come. Decisions involve ownerships, the front office, managerial and coaching decisions and the players. For the month of October, we’ll look at how the Indians ended up in their current predicament, but most importantly, Where Do the Indians Go From Here. This week we analyze the Tribe’s young core of players moving forward.
By Craig Gifford
It did not take Cody Allen long to make a positive impression with the Cleveland Indians. In fact, it has not taken Allen long to make a strong impression on any of his professional baseball stops.
In a little over a year, the right hander has gone from 23rd round draft pick to a potential key cog in the Tribe bullpen. He is the guy who could make closer Chris Perez expendable in an offseason trade. In April, Allen was unheard of and not on anyone’s radar to be in the majors any time soon. Now, he is a core player as the Indians look toward the future with new Manager Terry Francona.
The Indians selected Allen in the 2011 amateur draft. The selection was greeted with little fanfare, as would be the case with any mid-round relief pitcher. The rookie began this season at High-A Carolina and took just two appearances to earn a promotion to Double-A Akron. Five outings later, and a sterling 1.17 ERA in tow, at Allen was off to Triple-A Columbus. He took the mound at the highest minor league level 24 times to the tune of a solid 2.27 ERA.
Allen was making instant impressions at every stop. On the big league side, the Indians were hurting for relief pitching. Outside of Perez, setup man Vinnie Pestano and late-inning ace Joe Smith, the Indians 2012 bullpen was a mess. Injuries and down years bit the rest of Bullpen Mafia that had been so strong in 2011.
With Allen pitching superbly just two hours south and the Indians having a need, the call to bring Allen to the majors came on July 20. Much like he did in the minors, Allen quickly showed Cleveland he belonged on the biggest and brightest stage. The newcomer went through his first 13.2 innings of big league ball without allowing a single run. He quickly became the number four option out of the bullpen and someone who could give Smith or Pestano a night off where needed. The youngster showed no fear in facing top-notch hitting.
Allen did fade a bit after his fast start. However, his overall numbers were strong than any other Tribe reliever aside from the big three. He ended up with 27 appearances and 29.2 innings to his credit. The ERA ended up at 3.72. Most importantly, Allen showed he could throw strikes, fanning 27 batters while walking 15.
Allen now appears to be entrenched with the Tribe. After a solid half season in the majors, the fastball thrower should enter spring training with a job all but guaranteed. The wheels would really have to fall off for him to be back in the minors.
The emergence of Allen also gives the Indians some much-needed flexibility. Tribe management has to make some big decisions on several relievers in the offseason. Perez could be traded for high-end, young talent. If that happens, Pestano would get a bump to the closer role. Allen would be a logical first choice to be the new setup man with little lost in terms of late-inning relief work.
Allen also could make it possible for Cleveland to let go of Rafael Perez and/or Tony Sipp, who are both eligible for arbitration this winter. Sipp struggled all season, while Raffy Perez was injured for all but the first month. Who knows what either will bring to the table next season. Both are a bit more expendable with solid, new reliever on board.
At 24 on Opening Day, Allen is at a good age where he should be hitting peak years the next several seasons. He will be under Tribe control for the next six seasons. The Indians certainly have a new core player when it comes to Allen, who would be good coming out of the bullpen in any situation, other than closer, come 2013. While 2012 was a lost season for the Tribe, at least one hidden gen was unearthed.
If the Indians are to turn their fortunes around any time soon they will need a strong bullpen. Allen is an important part of that.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images