Anderson Optioned to AAA, Crockett Recalled

The Indians announced Wednesday afternoon that the team has optioned fourth starter Cody Anderson to Triple-A Columbus. In a corresponding roster move, Cleveland has recalled left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett from their Clippers affiliate.

The move does not necessarily come as a surprise, even with the uncertainty of two-fifths of the Indians’ current starting rotation after the hamstring injury sustained by starter Carlos Carrasco on Sunday. Anderson was 0-1 through his first four starts with a 7.65 ERA.

The Indians’ big 25-year-old right-hander has struggled with command in the early going, leaving too many pitches up and over the plate over the course of his first four starts. This has translated to six home runs allowed in his first 20 innings, or two-thirds of the total number of homers he gave up in 15 starts (91 1/3 innings) last season. While his strikeout rate has been up and his walk rate has been down from last year, he is allowing more than twice as many hits per nine innings and has a 1.90 WHIP in the early going.

After an impressive debut season in 2015, when he went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA and one complete game, Anderson had struggled in each of his last three starts. His first start of the season was easily his best, as he allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox. In each following outing, he has allowed five runs, allowed nine hits twice and ten hits on Tuesday night, and has failed to complete the fifth inning.

Trevor Bauer has slotted in to Carrasco’s spot in the rotation, leaving a void in the bullpen bunch. With an off day on Thursday and another one on Monday, the Indians were not in need of a fifth starter until May 7th with the way the rotation was set up, while all of their starting options would be able to still pitch on regular rest.

While Anderson has only walked four batters on the season while striking out 14, his pitch location and the long ball both bode as troubling signs, as does the high number of base runners he has had to fend off. In just 20 innings pitched, he has given up 34 hits, four walks, and one hit batter. He will now have an opportunity to pitch at Columbus and try to right himself, with his focus on staying out of the middle of the plate and keeping his ball down much more in the strike zone.

If he can do that, he could be a candidate to return the first Saturday of May.

Crockett rejoins the Cleveland bullpen after a good start in Columbus. The 24-year-old left-hander has appeared in 74 games for the Indians over each of the last two seasons. After a strong 4-1 record, 1.80 ERA, and 1.13 WHIP in 43 appearances in his rookie season, some control problems landed him in Columbus early in 2015. He did eventually return to Cleveland and stay with the club, finishing the year with 31 appearances, a 4.08 ERA, and a 1.36 WHIP.

He had made six appearances for Columbus this season, posting a 0.86 WHIP and 1.29 ERA across seven innings on the mound. He had allowed just one run on five hits, struck out three, and walked one. He has struggled in traditional matchup situations through the first month of the season, allowing a .429 batting average against and a 1.80 WHIP in one and two-thirds innings against left-handed hitters, while limiting right-handers to a .118 average and 0.56 WHIP in five and two-thirds innings with three strikeouts and a walk. Both are small and limited sample sizes.

Crockett gives manager Terry Francona two southpaws in his bullpen to match up now.

In minor league news, Double-A shortstop Eric Stamets has been promoted to Columbus. Off to a strong start for the RubberDucks, Stamets is needed after regular Clippers shortstop Erik Gonzalez was hit by a pitch in the head area.

Photo: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

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