Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 50 days
Like many numbers chronicled over the last nine days, the number 50 has long appeared on the backs of pitchers for the Cleveland Indians organization.
It made its debut in 1945, but was worn by catcher Gene Desautels in ten uneventful games in 1945. The light-hitting backstop, a career .233 hitter in 13 seasons in the Majors, was 1-for-9 that season with a single, a walk, and a strikeout. He spent four seasons with the club at the big league level.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Wednesday night that they have acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill from the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations. In a corresponding roster move, reliever Nick Hagadone was not tendered a contract and has been designated for assignment, creating a spot on the 40-man roster for their new outfielder.
The 29-year-old Cowgill joins his fourth organization in four years. A former fifth round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft, he was traded in a five-player trade in December of 2011 to the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics traded him a little over a year later to the New York Mets, who traded him in late June, 2013, to the Angels for a minor leaguer.
He had been with the Angels organization for the last two and a half seasons.
Maybe the Astros knew in April that they were a team destined for the postseason for the first time since 2005. The Cleveland Indians did not treat them that way when the club went into Houston to open the 2015 season and nearly notched a no-hitter in the third game of the season.
On April 9th, the Indians sent Trevor Bauer to the mound for his first start of the season against Astros rookie Asher Wojciechowski, who was making his Major League debut. What might have been the least intriguing matchups of the series nearly turned out historic.
It is no big secret that Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona loves his bullpen.
This past season, the Tribe called upon its relief corps 476 times, the sixth lowest number of appearances in all of baseball. It was a welcomed relief to the previous season, when Francona used his relievers a Major League leading 574 times, 31 more times than the next closest American League club.
While the right side of the mix is fairly settled with Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister, Austin Adams, and Jeff Manship, the left side is a mystery and will likely be a potential upgrade destination for the front office before the team hits Goodyear, Arizona, to start the 2016 spring camp.
As I write this article, I’m going to try extremely hard to look at the positive and not make this a censured piece about the Indians bullpen, but the inconsistencies in 2015 were too many to ignore.
The Tribe’s ‘pen heading into the season was supposed to be a strength with young closer Cody Allen heading into his prime, steady Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison and Marc Rzepczynski just ahead of him and young lefties Kyle Crockett and Nick Hagadone ready to break out, as well. What actually happened was, well, not exactly what the plan was set out to be.
As it does so often, the Indians inconsistencies in the bullpen started with the closer. While Allen’s final numbers look okay (2-5, 2.99 34 saves in 38 tries), it was Allen’s rocky start to the season that had as much impact as any on the Indians’ faulty beginning. Allen struggled with his command in the early goings, allowing seven walks and nine earned runs in his first eight outings and then chipping in two more walks and two more runs over his next four. By mid-May, Allen was averaging an earned run per inning—something that closers cannot do and expect success. To his credit, Allen did settle in and become Terry Francona’s most trusted reliever (Allen led the Majors in saves of more than one inning pitched), but his damage to the bullpen was clear in April and May.
Well Tribe fans, it’s officially the second half of the season. Gone are the days of, “it’s still early,” and looming closer is the end of the season and the much-sought-after playoff spot. The Indians are in a position to go a myriad of ways in the second half, depending on the maintained dominance of their starting pitching, a possible emergence of their offense, hopefully a redeeming bullpen, hopefully little to no more serious injuries, the trade deadline…. The list could go on and on.
Although frustrating that the Tribe’s success could hinge on such a high number of factors, it does give Tribe fans quite a number of things to look forward to as the season moves closer to it’s end. If you haven’t tuned in to the Tribe yet this year (and there’s a good chance you haven’t, as the Indians’ TV ratings are down 30 percent from last year), maybe one of these spots of interest will grab your attention for at least a handful of games in the second half. And, even if you aren’t watching, try to pay attention to some of these storylines that could shape the Tribe’s future:
The Indians dropped the opener of a three-game series against the Mariners on Tuesday, 3-2, despite two Yan Gomes homers.
The Mariners scored on RBI doubles by Robinson Cano in the first and Logan Morrison in the second, but Yan …
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? No. The Indians had taken an early 2-0 lead on a Michael Brantley homerun in the top of the first inning, but starting pitcher Danny Salazar coughed up an opposite field, three-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the bottom half and the Royals never looked back on their way to a 5-3 victory. The Tribe offense struggled against starter Jason Vargas, who worked six innings and allowed just two hits.
Salazar worked seven innings and struck out nine, but the homerun by Hosmer with an RBI single from Alex Gordon in the fifth and an RBI triple by Hosmer off of Nick Hagadone in the eighth was plenty of offense for Kansas City. Salazar made only made the one big mistake in the first, but was a victim of the Indians anemic offense as he suffered his first loss of the year.
Before the Royals scored their fifth run in the bottom half of the eighth, Lonnie Chisenhall had cut the score to 4-3 with a solo homerun, his second of the year, to lead off the top half.
WP: Vargas (3-1) LP: Salazar (3-1) S: Davis (6)
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Cleveland Indians made yet another transaction that directly affected their bullpen, as reliever Austin Adams was optioned back to Columbus for the second time in the first ten games of the season to make room for starting pitcher Danny Salazar.
The move paid off for the starting rotation, as Salazar struck out ten in one of the strongest outings he has had in his short Major League career, scattered now over parts of three seasons. The team was able to recall him and insert him into the rotation after Zach McAllister lost his starting spot that he had earned out of Spring Training, maybe as much by default as anything else. The veteran right-hander was out of options and neither Salazar nor the injured Josh Tomlin showed that they could handle the pressures of being out there every fifth day.
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? No! The Indians might not believe in jinxes, but luck has not been on their side in the first seven games. With Carlos Carrasco on the mound and the red-hot Detroit Tigers out of town, the Indians were looking to get back on track. But it didn’t take long to have their plans derailed.
Carrasco was hit by line drive from Melky Cabrera during the second at-bat of the game. The line drive glanced off Carrasco’s glove before hitting him on the left side of the face. He fell hard to the ground and remained motionless for several minutes before getting to his feet and being carted off the field. Cabrera’s liner was Chicago’s second straight infield hit to start the game, and knocked Carrasco from the contest.
Nick Hagadone is a puzzling pitcher.
Just this week alone, he has been the target of ridicule with little regard for his success after spoiling the Indians’ first chance at pitching a collective no-hitter since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. However, after giving up a home run to Jed Lowrie during Thursday’s game against the Astros, Hagadone then struck out the next two batters to finish the game and secure the Indians 5-1 victory over Houston. Surely something to be celebrated, right?
Many fans, though, can only see the negative of Hagadone’s performance. It’s easy to see why — Hagadone spoiled what could have been a history-making achievement for the Tribe, and struggled during his outing on the Wednesday before.
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Yes! Trevor Bauer, Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison took a combined no hitter through eight innings, but the no-no was broken up as Jed Lowrie socked a solo homerun off of Nick Hagadone with one out in the ninth. Bauer worked six scoreless and hitless innings and struck out a career high 11 batters, but threw 111 pitches before being pulled in the top of the seventh. Bauer struggled with control for the first two innings and fired 54 of those 111 bullets early, removing any chance of a complete game in his first start of the season.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Indians batters kept tacking on runs as their relatively quiet bats for the first two games of the season awoke against the Astros rookie pitcher Asher Wojciechowski, who made his first Major League start.