The Zach McAllister era in Cleveland ended two months earlier than anticipated, as the pending free agent was designated for assignment by the Indians on Friday to make room for the return of left-hander Andrew Miller from the 60-day disabled list.
Miller has not appeared on the mound in an Indians uniform since May 25, when he was tagged with his third blown save and third loss in six May appearances when he allowed three runs on two hits with a walk in two-thirds of an inning against Houston. It capped off a horrific month for the All-Star reliever, who allowed seven runs on seven hits with six walks and six strikeouts in just four and one-third innings. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 26 with right knee inflammation and was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 24.
The 6’7” hurler had started the season strong overall, striking out 19 batters and walking four over ten and two-thirds scoreless innings with four holds, a win, and a save, before he exited his outing against the Chicago Cubs on April 25 with a left hamstring strain in his first of two DL stints this season.
Miller made seven rehab appearances over the course of the last two weeks, working for the three local affiliates of the Tribe. His first three outings went well overall (July 17, 19, and 22), as he allowed a run on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. He next worked with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks on July 24, but was tagged for four runs on two hits with a walk and a hit batter in just one-third of an inning while hitting the strike zone with just 12 of his 24 pitches. He struggled again in an appearance with the Class-A Lake County Captains, working just two-thirds of an inning while allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits with one strikeout. His latter two outings were more promising, as he returned to Columbus and worked an inning and two-thirds in back-to-back appearances with a pair of strikeouts against five batters, throwing 15 of 20 pitches for strikes.
McAllister, one of the longest tenured members of the club, had been with the Indians organization since being acquired from the New York Yankees in August of 2010. He was the player to be named later in the July 30, 2010, trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to the Bronx and was sent to Cleveland in return three weeks after the initial deal. Kearns would spend 36 games with the Yankees that season, slashing .235/.345/.324 with three doubles, two homers, and seven RBI, and would re-sign with the Indians after the season.
This season, McAllister was 1-2 with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with a 10.2 K/9 rate in 41 games. He was coming off of one of his better months of the season, going 1-0 in nine July contests with a 1.93 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, striking out six and walking three in nine and one-third innings. He had worked mainly in low leverage situations this year, and those opportunities had dominated his time on the mound of late, as in eight of his nine July outings, he entered with the team trailing (five times) or up big in a blowout (three times).
The 30-year-old McAllister was a third round pick by the Yankees in 2006 and was to become a free agent at the close of the season. After joining the Indians in late August of 2010, he spent three games at Triple-A Columbus and was putting up strong numbers on the farm in 2011 when he got an opportunity to make four starts with the club beginning midseason. He worked as a regular member of the starting rotation in 2012 and 2013, but mixed results on the mound led to his transition to the bullpen in 2014. He had made just three spot starts over the last four years.
The right-hander did find some success in the Indians bullpen early in his transition to relief. He made 60 appearances out of the ‘pen in 2015, posting a 2.49 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with 10.9 K/9. In 2016, he made 51 appearances with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Last year, he made 50 trips to the mound in relief and gave the team a 2.61 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, but was not included on the team’s postseason roster.
The Indians will have seven days to place McAllister on waivers, trade him, or give him his outright release.
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