More often than not, the Cleveland Indians bullpen, once, the unquestioned strength of the team, has left its fan base screaming at it’s television by the time the final out is called.
It happened again to Nick Wittgren Saturday night, as the right-hander delivered a three-run homers in the 10th inning in a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox.
With a runner starting on second, it wasn’t an easy situation for Wittgren. That said, you’ve got to minimize the damage. Getting dinged for one is a whole heck-of-a-lot better than serving up a three-run meat ball.
Wittgren is one of the most consistent arms going in the pen, but even he’s having a tough month. He’s taken a loss three times this month, while surrendering three homers.
Then there’s James Karinchak, who was demoted to Columbus to clear a spot for Bobby Bradley, who was coming off the IR. Karinchak was sent down after allowing a three-run homer to Boston’s Jonathan Arauz on Friday night.
The “Wild Thing” has been a shell of himself since the All-Star break.
Some of these stats are startling: The opposition is batting .283 off him since the break, compared to .132 before. He was striking out 15.6 per nine innings before the break and 5.4 since. His ERA before was 2.52. After? Try 8.40.
Twitter and talk radio are filled with accusations of Karinchak’s decline coinciding with MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances on June 21. A White Sox broadcaster accused Karinchak of using a substance during an on-air broadcast earlier in the year.
Even Bryan Shaw’s been shaky lately, with opposing batters hitting .344 in July and .277 this month.
Fortunately, Trevor Stephan’s been a little bit better this month, fanning 11 batters in 13 innings. If you’ll recall, Cleveland kept Stephan on the roster after plucking him from the Yankees in the Rule-5 draft. I’m not sure he’s ready for high-leverage innings yet.
Closer Emmanuel Clase has been the team’s best bet, has he’s converted 18 of his 22 save opportunities this season while posting a 1.49 ERA.