The Cleveland Indians suffered a huge loss to their bullpen for the early months of the season, so how will Terry Francona replace Emmanuel Clase?
Clase was supposed to be a transformative piece of the Tribe’s pen. Clase, along with Brad Hand and James Karinchak were expected to elevate a bullpen that ranked last in strikeouts (526) during the 2019 season.
The Indians are expected to carry eight relievers, and these five arms look like probables to make the Opening Day roster: Hand, Oliver Perez, Adam Cimber, Karinchak and Nick Wittgren. Clase would’ve been the sixth, so now Terry Francona has three spots to fill.
Potential candidates to make the club include Hunter Wood and Phil Maton, while James Hoyt should also be given a longer look in Spring Training. Wood and Raton were acquired in trades with the Rays and Padres, respectively, while the Indians traded for Hoyt back in 2018 when he was with the Astros.
Logan Allen, acquired along with Franmil Reyes in the last summer’s Trevor Bauer trade, could also be an option. As things stand right now, Allens’ future role is still uncertain. The Indians would probably like the former top 100 prospect to be a starter, but he can relieve.
Scott Moss and Jefry Rodriguez could also be options, but like Allen, they could be needed in the starting rotation. The Cactus League isn’t even a week old and Mike Clevinger (knee), Carlos Carrasco (hip)k and Aaron Civale (groin) have all suffered injuries.
Losing Clase is a huge blow to the Tribe, considering they traded their two-time Cy Young Award winner to the Rangers. Losing him for 8-12 weeks will dramatically alter the makeup of the back end of the pen, as Hand and Karinchak are the only serious strikeout threats.
The Indians need a lot of things to go right in 2020 to take a first place, and this setback won’t help in the early months.