The Internal Options
While the Indians may be looking at adding some bullpen depth, they do have some internal options that could help out in 2017. Kyle Crockett has been with the big league club each of the past three seasons but hasn’t yet found a permanent home in the bullpen. After throwing 30 innings as a rookie in 2014, he’s thrown just 33 2/3 innings the last two combined at the big league level. He wasn’t bad by any stretch in 2016 though, striking out over a batter an inning and posting an impressive 0.3 fWAR in just 16 innings and 29 appearances. An injury late in the season kept him from being an option in the playoffs but given how he’s been used he appears to still not have the confidence of the club.
Hoby Milner was a Rule 5 pick by the Indians this year, meaning he’ll have to be on the Opening Day roster or be offered back to the Philadelphia Phillies. The 26-year-old has just 16 innings above Double-A and has yet to make his big league debut. However, those 16 innings in Triple-A were very dominant. In 11 appearances, he struck out 22 and walked just three. He’s the most inexperienced option for the Tribe, but one of the more intriguing ones as well.
Ryan Merritt is an option many may not think of at first but could find his way into the big league ‘pen. Some may be viewing him strictly as a starter after that outstanding start in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series to clinch the pennant for the Tribe, but he did pitch out of the bullpen a couple of times during the regular season.
The Indians will likely want to keep him as a starter in Triple-A to provide rotation depth but the team does have plenty of others to fill that role in Mike Clevinger, Cody Anderson, and Adam Plutko.
Shawn Morimando and Tim Cooney round out the internal options for the Tribe. Both have been starters in the minors but both could find themselves in the bullpen at the big league level. Morimando found his way to the big league roster this year appearing in two games while Cooney came over from the St. Louis Cardinals in a waiver deal earlier this offseason. Cooney is working his way back from injury so probably won’t be a realistic option until the summer.\
So who do you think the Cleveland Indians should add to the bullpen? Does it have to be a lefty or could a Joe Blanton be the answer? Or do the Indians even need to add a bullpen piece between now and Opening Day? Perhaps Andrew Miller is the only lefty the team needs. He’s a clear upgrade over the likes of Ross Detwiler and Tom Gorzelanny that the team used last year at the outset.