Indians Designate Belisle, Select Contract of Taylor from Columbus

The Cleveland Indians bullpen was known to have some question marks about it coming into the season after the losses of Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith from the staff in the offseason. Good length from the starting pitching helped to buffer those losses through much of the first month of the season, but that has not necessarily been the case in recent weeks and has been compounded by extra inning games and the hamstring strain sustained by Andrew Miller last week.

Cleveland announced on Wednesday that the contract of right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor had been selected from Triple-A Columbus. To create room on the 40-man roster for the 25-year-old, veteran right-hander Matt Belisle was designated for assignment.

It was no surprise that the Indians would be considering a roster move to add a rested arm or two to the bullpen. With several shorter outings from the starting staff of late and Tuesday’s 12-inning affair with the Texas Rangers, the Indians needed to bring in some reinforcements with three games left in the final two days of the team’s ten-day homestand.

Jeff Beliveau may have been a candidate for designation, as he is not expected to be available for the game on Wednesday after pitching the last two days. However, with Tyler Olson‘s wife expected to give birth soon, the team did not want to lose multiple left-handers in a short period of time.

Belisle, 37, is in his 15th Major League season and had appeared in eight games for the Indians after signing a minor league contract with the club during spring training. He had not factored in a decision to date, appearing in ten and two-thirds innings while allowing six runs on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts. He had also hit two batters and thrown a wild pitch.

He pitched in Tuesday’s game, working a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout, throwing ten of 13 pitches for strikes in his appearance.

He had made five relatively quiet and quick appearances this season, but a three-game stretch from April 13 to April 24 tacked on some damage to his stat sheet. He was charged with three runs on three hits with a strikeout in an inning and one-third against Toronto on the 13th in a loss. He appeared in the 14th inning of a 16-inning contest with Minnesota in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on the 18th, blowing his first save opportunity of the season when he gave up a leadoff home run to Miguel Sano to knot the game back up. He allowed two more runs on two hits with a walk in an inning against the Chicago Cubs on the 24th.

Taylor joined the Indians in February when he was claimed off of waivers from the Boston Red Sox. A seventh round selection by the club in the 2015 draft, he made his Major League debut last April after winning a bullpen job in camp. He appeared in 14 games over the course of last season, posting an 0-1 record with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings, striking out 18 and walking nine while giving up three home runs.

Taylor, a one-time starter in the Red Sox farm system, began his pro career as a starter, but transitioned into the bullpen in 2016. He had made 64 appearances (13 starts) for the Sox in the minors over the course of his first three seasons.

After successfully passing through waivers after being designated for assignment prior to the start of the season to create more 40-man roster spots, he was outrighted to Columbus. He has appeared in eight games for the Clippers this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.48 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP with three saves. He has allowed just five hits in ten and one-third innings pitched, but four of those have been doubles. He has struck out 16 of the 37 batters that he has faced while walking just one.

The majority of the damage done against Taylor this season came in his first appearance on April 8. On the road against Indianapolis, he took the loss while allowing three runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout. In his seven appearances since, he has gone 1-0 with three saves, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out 15 in nine innings of work and 29 batters faced.

Taylor will join the Indians immediately and will provide a rested arm behind Corey Kluber in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale with the Texas Rangers. He is expected to wear the number 35, last worn by Abraham Almonte.

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

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