Cleveland reliever Cody Allen has not received the credit due to him for his strong work in the closer’s role for the Indians over the last several seasons. He finally got some recognition this week when he was named the American League’s Reliever of the Month for his performance in the month of April to open the 2017 schedule.
Allen anchored one of the best bullpens in baseball through the first month of the season. His work in the ninth inning helped the Indians to be the only Major League team to convert every save opportunity in the month.
After not getting a ton of work during spring training after extensive use in the 2016 regular season and the playoffs, the right-hander appeared in ten games and worked ten innings in April. He earned six saves in six chances and ended the month with a 0.90 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.
While the one run allowed on seven hits with just one walk was impressive, his ability to strike batters out was incredible. He faced 40 batters in the month and struck out a total of 20 of them. His K total was the second-most among all Major League relievers, trailing only the 32 of Houston’s Chris Devenski.
Three different times in April he retired every out in his outing on strikeouts. He had three games of three strikeouts and five games with two Ks. Just once this season has he failed to strike out a batter in an appearance, and he worked just two-thirds of an inning that time out.
The 28-year-old, in his sixth big league season, has not had to worry about a heavy workload thus far this season. Just twice in the first month did he have to work on back-to-back days. His save situations have generally been in tight spots – he has entered with a three-run lead once, a two-run lead twice (one of which became a one-run game after he allowed a run), and a one-run lead in the other three in April. His first save situation in May was a similar one-run ball game.
After allowing one run in his second appearance of the season, he ended the month with eight consecutive scoreless games and innings with 14 strikeouts of the 31 men that he faced.
He has been utilizing a two-pitch mix again this season, relying on a mid-90s fastball and a knuckle-curve, according to the stat gurus at Fangraphs.com. His fastball has been responsible for nine strikeouts this season, but opposing hitters have hit .346 against it. The curve has been dominating, as he has allowed just one single in 15 at bats (.067 average) with 12 of his strikeouts.
The veteran right-hander saved 32 games last season and 34 the season before as the Indians’ primary closer. He took over the role during the 2014 season and saved 24 games in a partial season of work as the team’s ninth inning man after previously working in a setup role. He debuted in July of 2012, just a little over one year after the Indians selected him for a second time in the amateur draft.
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