Clevinger and House Recalled as Cleveland Cuts Two from Bullpen

The bullpen door for the Cleveland Indians went from under-used to over-used in a heartbeat. Now, it has become a revolving one as on Monday afternoon, the club announced that a pair of relievers, left-hander Tom Gorzelanny and right-hander Joba Chamberlain, had been designated for assignment.

In a related move, the Indians have recalled right-handed starter Mike Clevinger and left-handed reliever T.J. House from Triple-A Columbus. Both pitchers, who have extensive starting experience in their professional careers, are expected to work out of the bullpen.

The roster move with Gorzelanny may not have come as a surprise after he allowed seven runs in Sunday’s blowout in Toronto. The soon-to-be 34-year-old southpaw is in his 12th Major League season and appeared in seven games for Cleveland. He had not allowed a run or a hit in his first six outings (two and two-thirds innings), but gave up four hits (including a home run) and issued three free passes in just one-third of an inning on the mound.

The designation of Chamberlain comes as a bit of a surprise as his overall numbers have been good this season. He departs the roster with no decisions, a 2.25 ERA, and 1.15 WHIP in 20 appearances. He worked 20 innings, striking out 18 but walking eleven in that span. Three came in his final outing with the club on Sunday.

Four of the ten runners he inherited this season had come around to score. He had held opposing hitters to a .176 average, with righties (.179) faring little better than lefties (.172). He had issued seven of his eleven free passes to left-handers.

This will be the second trip to Cleveland this season for Clevinger after helping fill a hole in the starting rotation in May. He was 0-1 in three starts, allowing 14 runs on 16 hits with seven walks in 14 1/3 innings. He struck out 13 of the 66 batters that he faced.

His numbers in Columbus this season have been far more promising, where he has yet to earn a loss in 13 starts, posting an 8-0 record with a 2.70 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He has struck out 76 batters and walked 28 in 70 innings pitched.

Over the last four weeks (five starts), he is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, with 35 strikeouts and eight walks in 30 2/3 innings.

Right-handed batters have hit .279 against Clevinger this season combined with 15 extra base hits and 35 of his strikeouts. His stuff has played much better against left-handers, who have hit .183 with eight extra base hits and 54 of his 89 strikeouts for the season.

He is expected to remain with the club until the All-Star break, when he would return to Columbus to remain a depth rotation option for the Indians with the Clippers.

As for House, his return will be in a much different role than the one he began 2015 with. Twenty-two of House’s 23 career appearances with the Indians in 2014 and 2015 came in the starting rotation, but he was limited to just nine starts between Cleveland, Columbus, and Lake County last year as injuries shut him down and held him winless for the season.

He began 2016 in the Clippers rotation at the Triple-A level, but was later moved to the bullpen. He has worked exclusively there since June 12 and has made seven appearances. He has earned a save and has tossed eight and one-third innings, holding the opposition to a .207 batting average against while posting a 2.16 ERA.

While working as a starter, House was 4-3 in 12 starts with a 4.82 ERA and .308 batting average against. He had struck out 40 batters and walked 33 in 52 1/3 innings in the rotation.

House may be more of a depth option than a lefty-on-lefty matchup piece for Indians manager Terry Francona, as left-handed batters are hitting .323 with a .419 on-base percentage and .435 slugging percentage in 74 plate appearances this season. Right-handers have hit .287/.383/.436 in 210 plate appearances.

House will be the next in a growing line of lefty options utilized by the Indians, who would likely be looking to upgrade that element of their bullpen via trade before the deadline this season. Left-handed relief options are becoming fewer and fewer for the Tribe organization as they have now used five different lefties in relief, while those men have provided the club little relief in return.

The other four men who have worked out of the ‘pen this season are still with the team at the Triple-A level – Ross Detwiler (who has worked exclusively as a starter since remaining with the organization), Kyle Crockett, and a pair of starters, Ryan Merritt and Shawn Morimando. The latter two had the most success of the bunch.

Photo: Fred Squillante/The Columbus Dispatch

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Looks like a totally unnecessary move. The bullpen barely pitched for two weeks, and now because they all pitched on Friday, it’s overworked? The Tribe just got rid of two quality pitchers with years of experience. Joba has been good all year, and Gorzelanny, though he got rocked Sunday, had 6 prior appearances without giving up a run. They were replaced by two question marks, and after Salazar goes 7 or 8 innings tonight, this move is really going to look stupid.

    1. While Salazar didn’t make it through 6, I completely agree with your point. I really had been impressed overall with what they got from Joba and would have rather them finally cut bait with ZMac after years of waiting for him to figure it out. Even with Gorzelanny, it seemed like an awfully quick hook, especially when neither of House or Clevinger will be here long. At least with Clevinger, you know he will be back in Triple-A at the break, which means starting the second half with Austin Adams/Shawn Armstrong/Joe Colon types, or they’ve made an external move by then.

  2. I agree with prior comments. The moves made today just don’t make sense from a pure baseball perspective. Chamberlain has pitched quite well in relief. At this point, I would take him over Clevenger as far as velocity and experience. House might make sense in that we need left handed help in the bullpen; but, only if we’ve given up on Gorzelanny. I have to believe that money somehow has an effect with these moves. I’m also disappointed that we got rid of Martinez. He had made several good defensive plays for us as well as doing well at the plate. He appeared to be happy here and understood his roll. The only negative was his inability to twice lay down sacrifice bunts in the Toronto series. I also have to believe that somehow these moves are in anticipation of activating Brantley; but, in the final analysis, it made no baseball sense to get rid of Joba.

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