Herrmann Facing Several Contenders For Bullpen Spot
Each week through Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and break down the players in camp for the Indians at Goodyear, Arizona and examine their potential roles for the season to come. This week, we continue our Goodyear coverage by breaking down the players who are battling for a chance to make the Opening Day roster.
By Mike Brandyberry
After two seasons in the Indians bullpen most fans would expect right-handed reliever Frank Herrmann to have a job solidified, but not so fast. Herrmann, while he has a leg up in the competition, will have to battle many candidates to earn one of the final spots in the Tribe pen.
Herrmann worked most of 2011 as one of the Tribe’s long relievers. He and Chad Durbin worked as the front end pitchers. His best game of the season may have been the three scoreless innings he worked in Cincinnati when Fausto Carmona was injured after three innings. Herrmann was 4-0, with a 5.11 ERA in 40 games and 56.1 innings last season. Once the playoffs were out of reach in September, the Tribe rested several back end relief pitchers and gave Herrmann an increased role. He struggled the final month. In 2010, Herrmann shuttled between Cleveland and Columbus on a regular basis.
With the recent injury to closer Chris Perez, several pitchers may have to assume a different role if he is not ready for Opening Day. Perez has stated he has the goal to resume activity on March 15 with the hope of pitching in exhibition games a week later. If he is unavailable for Opening Day, only Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez would be guaranteed spots on the original 25-man roster.
Herrmann will find himself battling for the 2-3 open bullpen spots. If Perez is forced to open the season on the disabled list, Herrmann may find himself trying to battle for a middle relief role, much like the one he struggled with last September. If Perez is healthy, the Harvard Hurler could be back in his long relief role he had in 2011.
Manager Manny Acta has stated that Herrmann’s spot on the team is not assumed, that he will have to compete with the likes of Nick Hagadone and spring invitees, Dan Wheeler, Robinson Tejeda, Chris Ray and Jeremy Accardo. Herrmann and Hagadone are on the 40-man roster, probably giving them a leg up in the competition. He may have to battle starting pitchers who don’t make the rotation like Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister or David Huff for a long relief role.
Herrmann may have the leg up on competition, but the Perez injury may open the doors to relief possibilities to challenge him from all angles.
Photo: Jordan Bastain/MLB.com