Sam Hentges, RP
His spring training resume consisted of just 3.0 innings, but in that short time, you could see why their buzz surrounding the 6-foot-6 left-hander when the Tribe gathered in Goodyear.
Sending Hentges down is the right call, as he didn’t have a season in 2020 and hasn’t pitched about Class AA. My guess is he’ll pitch at Triple-A, once their season commences, which is expected to be a month after the rest of the minors begin.
If Hentges is effective in the minor league, and if the need is there, he should be called upon late in the summer. It was brutal to watch the White Sox last season, a team that has their own tall, hard throwing lefty.
I’m referring to White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet, who didn’t spend a second in the minors. The White Sox drafted him 11th overall, and the now 21-year-old was in the big leagues soon after, pitching six innings for his playoff-bound club.
There’s some promising, yet unproven arms in the bullpen with James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase set for the back-end of the pen. Nick Wittgren’s been solid, as well. After those there guys, there’s uncertainty.
If memory serves me right, Phil Maton struggled in high-leverage situations. Bryan Shaw was once a bullpen weapon. He’s made the team, but we just won’t know about his comeback story until he pitches in real games. And then there’s Oliver Perez, who I expect to make the club. Can he still be effective?
The margin for error for the Indians is going to be a small. Scoring runs may be difficult. The pen can keep teams in games, but if the aforementioned players are going to give runs away, then the organization better take a look at Hentges.
It’ll be interesting to see how Hentges is utilized once minor-league play begins. The Tribe looks like they’ll bring him a long a starter, but the bullpen may provide a quicker ticket to the big leagues.