The Indians will need another starting pitcher next week.
Cleveland announced on Saturday morning that pitcher Adam Plutko and catcher Eric Haase had been optioned to Triple-A Columbus. The Tribe made a pair of moves with the vacated roster spots, recalling outfielder Greg Allen from Columbus while also purchasing the contract of left-handed reliever Josh Smith from their top farm affiliate.
The news on Haase was not unexpected, as he was in town as insurance in the event that starting catcher Roberto Perez needed more time in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms suffered during Tuesday night’s game. Haase was recalled from Columbus on Wednesday when the team designated outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment.
Haase went 0-for-6 in two games for Cleveland with four strikeouts and a walk in seven plate appearances.
Plutko suffered a rough start in Thursday’s series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays after making a gem of a debut in his first start on Saturday, May 18, against the Baltimore Orioles, when he allowed just one run on one hit in six innings of work. In his second start for Cleveland, he was charged with seven runs on 12 hits (including four home runs) and sat over the plate far too often. He did not issue a walk and struck out three.
He missed a chunk of time late in the spring and on into the start of the regular season with a right forearm strain and he may need more time post-recovery to be a consistent option for the Major League rotation.
The 29-year-old southpaw Smith will give the Indians four left-handers in their bullpen (Brad Hand, Tyler Olson, and Oliver Perez). He will provide some depth as the relief staff has been heavily used over the last week due to shorter and inconsistent outings from the starting staff.
In 17 relief appearances for the Clippers this season, Smith had posted a 5-1 record with three saves, a 1.82 ERA, and a 0.73 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a .099 batting average. In 24 2/3 innings of work, he had struck out 32 and walked 10.
Smith was a 25th round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2012 draft out of Wichita State. The Indians signed him to a minor league deal in December with a non-roster invitation to spring training, but after not breaking camp with the big league club, he started his fourth season at the Triple-A level. This is the first time in his professional career that he has been on a team’s 40-man roster.
Allen rejoins the Indians roster after spending the last month back at Triple-A. He struggled to open the year with the Indians in an undetermined role, getting 38 at bats over 19 games. He hit .105 (4-for-38) with two singles, two doubles, and six RBI. He struck out 14 times and his inability to get on base left him unable to make a bigger impact with his legs. He was optioned out on April 28.
Allen was in the lineup 21 times for the Clippers over the last month, hitting .284 with 25 total hits (17 singles, five doubles, one triple, two homers) while driving in four runs and scoring 13 times. He drastically cut down his strikeout rate while back in the minors.
His stay may be just temporary, as Tyler Naquin is nearing a return from the injured list. The Indians already have a loaded outfield consisting of Jake Bauers, Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin, and Oscar Mercado.
The Indians are in the back half of an 18-game stretch of consecutive games. Their next off day is Monday, June 3, when they come back home to Cleveland after a seven-game road trip in Boston and Chicago. The Indians will need to call up a starter on Tuesday or opt for a bullpen game against the Red Sox. Manager Terry Francona is expected to announce that future starting option on Sunday.
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