Will the bullpen spell doom for the Cleveland Indians in the 60-game sprint?
Experts universally agree the Cleveland Indians don’t have a great bullpen, which could be problematic has each game has increased importance in this 60-game shortened season.
Fans got to see firsthand the roller-coaster ride that could be the 2020 Tribe during the team’s second exhibition contest against the Pirates at Progressive Field July 20.
Brad Hand was the first reliever out of the pen in the sixth and Josh Bell proceeded to muscle an opposite field homer to cut the Tribe’s lead to 7-4. It was the only damage done against Hand.
The Indians believe Hand will return to the elite form that helped him become an All-Star. Under the caveat that this was basically a spring training contest, I was a little worried about Hand’s slider, as it was way so off that hitters weren’t even thinking about swinging at it. Better now, than when it counts.
Giving Hand the benefit of the doubt here, there’s still a ton of concerns in the pen, as even the Indians are worried about the relievers who will pitch before hand, according to Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto.
Nick Wittgren was bad. So was Adam Cimber. The Pirates loaded the bases against Wittgren, who then issued a walk. Cimber came out to spell him with two outs and got a big strikeout of Bell.
Cimber started the next inning, but whatever good vibes he had form the previous inning were gone. Cimber didn’t record an out, allowing a leadoff home-run to start the frame, followed by a double and a single.
With runners on first and second, Hunter Wood came in and got out of the inning, getting two big strikeouts in the process.
James Karinchak closed out the game with three strikeouts and he looked impressive. He throws in the mid 90s and his curveball is such a powerful hammer. The key will be throwing it for strikes, as the concern is he won’t be able to throw it for strikes.
Cleveland Indians: Other notable perfromances
1. Jordan Luplow homered…off a right-hander! Luplow had been battling a bad back and he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to start the season on time. Thankfully here’s here, because he could really solidify the outfielder he can become an everyday player.
Last season, Luplow played mostly against lefties, and he posted an OPS over 1.000. However, the Indians talked about him getting opportunities against right-handers, as well.
If Luplow can play the outfield, that means Domingo Santana can DH, which is a good thing. He’s not someone who should be playing the outfield every day.
2. Bradley Zimmer continues to crush, cracking an RBI single in the third to give the Indians a 4-3 lead, just after the Pirates had tied the contest in the top of the frame.
Zimmer entered the contest batting .556 (10-for-18) with four homers and seven RBI in eight intrasquad games since the start of Summer Camp.
3. Mike Clevinger game up a couple home runs, but he looked ready for the season. He struck out five of the last eight batters he faced and 67 percent (43 of 64) of his offerings went for strikes.
4. Jake Bauers also homered and had been swinging the bat well during the instrasquad games. Tito’s going to have some tough decisions to make when finalizing his roster.