Cody Allen: Cleveland Indians Closer, Chicken, Star

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Sky is the Limit for Cody Allen

Cody Allen has been destined to close for the Cleveland Indians since the moment he joined the organization. In 2012, only his second year as a pro, Allen pitched at every single minor league level before ascending to the big leagues. In 2013, he dazzled the Indians’ coaching staff and front office with his composure and velocity in late-innings, striking out 11.26 per nine innings pitched as the club’s primary setup man. 

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Despite his early success, the Indians hoped to keep Allen in a setup role for at least one more year, inking veteran closer John Axford to a one-year, $4.5-million deal last December. However, by the end of May, Axford imploded under ninth inning duress, and Allen took hold of the closer’s role for good.

Allen was dynamite for the Tribe in 2014; his 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 24 saves over 69 2/3 frames speak to Allen’s dominance. His 76 appearances were tied for second most in the American League, trailing only teammate Bryan Shaw. His 1.2 WAR was in the top 30 in all of baseball among relievers, and that number is likely to rise as Allen closes full-time come 2015. His 11.76 K/9 ranked 14th among all MLB relievers with a minimum of 50 innings pitched.

It seems Allen’s biggest challenge in 2015 will be preventing the long ball. He surrendered seven homers in 2014, the second most among all AL closers. With a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, Allen must focus on keeping the ball down in the zone. It is essential for closers to minimize the damage an opposing lineup can do, and preventing homers goes a long way towards preserving a closer’s longevity.

At only 25 years old, Allen is poised to have a long reign as Indians closer. The best news for the Indians is Cody is still developing, learning how to effectively utilize his secondary pitches to complement his plus fastball. Allen will anchor the Tribe bullpen in 2015, and skipper Terry Francona is excited to watch him perform in more high leverage situations.

“Every night we can give him the ball, believe me we will,” Francona said after Allen blew a September save against the Detroit Tigers. “He is a big part of our future.”

Allen is also known for his clubhouse antics, including bringing a live chicken to the stadium down the stretch in 2013. This season, Cody emerged in a full chicken suit before a game at Progressive Field. The suit remains in his locker, waiting to provide the Tribe with a spark when needed.

It would be no surprise if Allen develops into one of the top closers in the AL in 2015. His career with the Tribe is only beginning, and the sky is the limit. Long live Cody, and long live the Rally Chicken.

Statistics via Fangraphs

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