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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | March 29, 2020

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34

| On 21, Feb 2020

Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 34 days

Zach Plesac will shed his rookie number 65 for the vacated 34 for the 2020 season, with the number made available when the team did not bring back reliever A.J. Cole after one season of work in the Cleveland bullpen.

Cole was a waiver claim by the Indians in January of 2019, scooped up from the New York Yankees. His stay could have been brief, as he was designated for assignment in February, but he was outrighted to the minors and opened the year with the Columbus Clippers.

The 28-year-old started the season with six straight scoreless appearances and a save before giving up his first run against Toledo on April 20. He still earned the save in the contest. He was tagged for runs in each of his next three contests as well, but put together three scoreless outings (five innings in total) and had his contract purchased by the Indians on May 11 after posting a 3.18 ERA and a .179 batting average against in his first 13 games with the Clippers.

Cole – Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Cole took the loss in his Indians debut, but settled in for manager Terry Francona, often working in multiple innings. He allowed six runs (just two earned) in nine innings in May with 13 strikeouts and just one walk. He allowed six more runs (this time all earned) in nine more games in scattered work in June, struggling with a 7.36 ERA and a .344 batting average against while allowing three homers and walking five of the 37 batters that he faced. His July workload was light, as he made just six appearances, but he allowed just one earned run (1.35 ERA) in six and two-thirds innings of work.

He opened August with a clunker against Houston, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk in just one-third of an inning. He pitched again on August 7, earning the win in relief with his longest outing of the campaign, a two and two-thirds innings effort with two hits allowed and two strikeouts to help defeat Texas. That would be his last appearance on the mound for the year, however, as he was placed on the injured list a few days later with a right shoulder impingement. He was transferred to the 60-day IL on September 1, ending his season.

Cleveland outrighted him off of the 40-man roster again after the World Series, but he declined the assignment and became a free agent. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 25, agreeing to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training in Florida.

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Plesac will hope that some of the number 34’s magic rubs off on him as he hopes to appear in a second season at the Major League level with the Indians. Two future Cy Young award winners in Cleveland, one future league Most Valuable Player, and an American League Rookie of the Year all spent some time in the number 34 for the club on the way to taking home some impressive hardware.

None of those applied to the last player to wear the number for the Indians for a significant length of time, pitcher Zach McAllister, nor reliever Justin Grimm, who was in camp with the Indians last spring before exiting the organization.

McAllister found a home in the Indians bullpen after spending his first four years in the Majors in the team’s rotation. A 2010 addition from the New York Yankees in a trade for outfielder Austin Kearns, McAllister showed promise in the early years of his career, but by 2014, he began to fall out of favor and was sent back to Triple-A. When he returned the next month, he worked almost exclusively in relief, outside of a handful of short spot starts.

Kluber & Marson – Leon Halip/Getty Images

He made a career-high 60 appearances in relief in 2015 with an even 3.00 ERA and the only save of his big league career while averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He made 53 appearances in 2016 and followed it up with another 50 in 2017, posting a career-best 2.61 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP while averaging more than a strikeout per inning pitched for the third straight year.

McAllister’s time with the Tribe came to an end during the 2018 season. Pitching in his eighth big league season and his fourth straight solely viewed as a reliever, the righty went 1-2 with four holds, one blown save, a 6.20 ERA, and a 1.49 WHIP with elevated hit and homer rates and a significant decline in his strikeout rate over his 41 games. On August 3, he was designated for assignment and on August 7, he was given his outright release. He signed with the Detroit Tigers and appeared in three games for the parent club, but allowed eight runs in three and one-third innings before being outrighted to the minors. He opted for free agency instead and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed six runs over six innings of five games for their Triple-A affiliate before the minor league schedule concluded.

The 6’6” righty went to camp with the Texas Rangers last year, but was later cut and spent nine games working with the Dodgers’ Oklahoma city affiliate.

Cy Young winners Cliff Lee and Corey Kluber both spent the early years of their Indians career in the number 34.

Lee actually wore 65 (like Plesac) when he debuted with the Indians in 2002, just months after being acquired as part of the massive prospect haul from the Montreal Expos for Bartolo Colon. He switched over to 34 during the next season and wore it for parts of the 2003 and 2004 seasons before transitioning over to his more familiar 31, the number he wore in 2008 when he won the AL Cy in his seventh season with the club.

Kluber, like the above mentioned pitchers an acquired unproven young arm (but in one fleecing of a trade), was picked up by the Tribe in a three-team deadline trade in 2010. He came to Cleveland from San Diego, while the Padres received Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals. Pitching prospect Nick Greenwood also relocated from San Diego to St. Louis, while the Indians sent starting pitcher Jake Westbrook to his new home near the Gateway Arch.

Kluber debuted with three relief appearances the next season before joining the starting rotation in 2012 in his new 28. In 2013, he claimed his spot in the rotation for good, winning eleven games that season before his first Cy Young campaign in 2014 when he led the league in wins (18) and FIP (2.35) while leading the Majors in starts with 34. He posted his second and third 18-win seasons in 2016 and 2017, taking home a third place finish in the Cy in ’16 before winning the award for the second time in 2017. That year, he led the Majors in wins (18), ERA (2.25), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.87), complete games (5), shutouts (3), and strikeouts per walk (7.36).

Kluber earned a third place finish in the Cy voting in 2018, his third straight top three finish and the fourth time in five years he had done so. He went 20-7 on the year with a 2.89 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP, and he led the league in innings pitched (215), walk rate (1.4), shutouts (1), and complete games (2 – leading all of MLB). Injuries shortened his 2019 campaign and he has since been traded to the Texas Rangers.

Unlike the two Cy Young winners, Joe Charboneau earned his special award while wearing 34 for the Tribe.

A second round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1976 draft, he was traded to Cleveland following the 1978 season for pitcher Cardell Camper, who would play just three big league games in his career (all for Cleveland in 1977).

Charboneau – Kurt Mutchler/The Plain Dealer

“Super Joe” lived up to the nickname in his first season in the Majors, appearing in 131 games while slashing .289/.358/.488 with 17 doubles, two triples, 23 homers, and 87 RBI. He received 102 voting points in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, taking home 73% of the share of the vote. Fifteen of 28 first place votes went to the 26-year-old as he easily defeated the runners up – Boston’s Dave Stapleton (40 voting points), Minnesota’s Doug Corbett (38 points), Toronto’s Damaso Garcia (35 points), and Chicago’s Britt Burns (33 points).

Injuries would prove costly to Charboneau’s career, however, as he was limited to 48 games in 1981 and just 22 in 1982. He played in just eleven games for Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate in 1983 and was released after the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in February of 1984, but spent the season in the minors at the Class-A and Triple-A levels in the last pro action of his career.

Lou Boudreau, the team’s second of three MVP winners in franchise history, debuted in the Majors in 1938, drawing a walk in two plate appearances in the number 34 before switching to the number that would eventually be retired by the club, 5.

Boudreau spent 13 seasons in Cleveland and two more in Boston during his Hall of Fame career. He took on managerial duties of the Indians in 1942 and made seven different trips to the All-Star Game as a player. He drew MVP votes in ten straight seasons for the Indians, finishing fifth in 1940 and third in 1947 before he claimed the award for himself during his incredible 1948 season. He had a career-high 199 hits, 18 homers, and 106 RBI that season while hitting .355 and bringing the World Series title back to Cleveland for the first time since 1920.

He played with the club through 1950 before he moved on to the Red Sox organization. He played two seasons in Boston and managed the club for three years in total before spending time at the helm of the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1957 and the Chicago Cubs in 1960 (after exiting the broadcast booth in a swap with then-manager Charlie Grimm). The move preceded the disastrous College of Coaches experiment at Wrigley and Boudreau returned to the broadcast booth through 1987.

Other notable 34s in Tribe history (40 in total): Ray Gardner (first to wear it in MLB in 1929), Odell Hale (1934-36), Dale Mitchell (1948-50), Sam McDowell (1963), Steve Hargan (1965-72), Jim Kern (1974-78), Brian Anderson (1996-97), Dave Burba (1998-2002), Kevin Millwood (2005), Kerry Wood (2009-10).

Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)

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