Consecutive short starts from Cody Anderson have forced the Cleveland Indians to call for reinforcements.
After Anderson threw 68 pitches in just three innings of work, the Indians were forced to use seven of their eight relievers in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics. To add a rested arm to the relief corps, the team purchased the contract of right-hander A.J. Cole from Triple-A Columbus and optioned Anderson to their top farm club.
The 27-year-old Cole assumed an empty 40-man roster spot previously created when Anderson was recalled from Columbus on May 5 and utility man Max Moroff was designated for assignment. Moroff has since cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus.
Cole, a former starter, had worked exclusively as a reliever in Columbus despite the depth concerns at the starting pitching level for the Indians organization. He worked in 13 games, posting a 0-1 record with a 3.18 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP, and two saves in 17 innings of work. He had allowed six runs on ten hits (including two home runs) while walking five and striking out 21 (11.1 K/9 rate).
All six runs allowed by Cole came in the span of a week and a half at the end of April and moved him out of late inning work. He allowed a solo homer but still earned the save in a win over Toledo on April 20. He gave up two runs on two hits in an inning against Norfolk on April 23 and took the loss on April 26 when he gave up two runs on three hits (including a homer) in two innings against Durham. He concluded that rough stretch with another run surrendered on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts in the seventh inning against Indianapolis on April 29.
He started the season with six straight scoreless appearances for the Clippers, allowing just one hit and four walks in seven innings of work with nine strikeouts against 24 batters. Since his four-game stretch being scored upon, he has worked five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks with five strikeouts.
Cole has been tough on right-handed batters this season. In ten and two-thirds innings against them, he has allowed just one run on four hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts (.121 batting average against, 0.84 ERA, 0.56 WHIP). Lefties have fared much better, with five runs on six hits (including both home runs allowed) with three walks and six strikeouts (.261 batting average against, 7.11 ERA, 1.42 WHIP).
Cole has struck out at least one batter in all 13 appearances this season and struck out two in five straight outings from April 23 to May 5. He was in spring camp with the Indians, striking out nine in seven innings of work while posting a 5.14 ERA with ten hits and a walk allowed.
He is 8-9 in 54 big league games (2015-2018 with Washington, 2018 with the New York Yankees) with a 5.05 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. He has been far better in his relief work, posting a 4-1 mark in 35 games with a 4.31 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, and a 10.1 K/9 rate, while as a starter, he is 4-8 with a 5.48 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, and an 8.6 K/9 rate.
Anderson had looked good to start the year in a pair of abbreviated starts for the Clippers, but the results have not translated at the Major League level. He threw three shutout innings of one-hit baseball, striking out four in his season debut on April 7. After working out of the Indians bullpen for a stretch, he returned to Columbus and put up identical numbers in his second start of the year on April 28.
Injuries in the Cleveland starting rotation have forced the club to call upon arms from a depleted Columbus rotation. Adam Plutko, who was limited in the spring with a right forearm strain, just recently returned to the Triple-A team and was hit hard in his first start of the year. Anderson was hardly stretched out and has not pitched into the fourth inning in any of his four starts this season.
In his first start for the Indians on Sunday, May 5, he lasted just two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with four runs on two hits with three walks and just one strikeout against seven batters, throwing 38 pitches and taking the loss against Seattle. On Friday, 68 pitches were needed for him to retire nine outs against the 16 Oakland batters that he faced. He allowed two runs on three hits in three innings, walking three, striking out three, and hitting a batter.
In three relief appearances for the Indians in April, he worked three innings total, giving up three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts (5.40 ERA and a .350 batting average against).
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