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Cleveland Indians: Bullpen’s ineffectiveness may take toll on rotation

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret that the Cleveland Indians bullpen has been a disaster over the past couple weeks. The lack of trust in that bullpen could have lasting consequences.

For most teams, this situation is the other way around. It’s a rotation’s ineffectiveness that can take a toll on a bullpen. But for the Indians, it’s the bullpen’s ineffectiveness that could put a toll on the rotation.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is well aware of the fact that most of his bullpen cannot be trusted to hold leads late in games. Luckily, the Indians rotation is still among the best in baseball, and Francona’s going to have to ride that as much as he can. But there is a problem with that.

Francona is allowing his starters to go longer and pitch eight or nine innings in order to get the win because they’re the only ones he trusts to get the job done. Zach McAllister has been an abject disappointment so far, Dan Otero and Tyler Olson haven’t been much better. Andrew Miller has been hurt and doesn’t appear to be himself yet and Cody Allen has had his struggles as well.

The long-term impact

As Tito said, he doesn’t want his starters to be out of gas while there’s still the most important part of the season left to play. If the Indians have to run Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer out there for eight or nine innings every other start early in the season, by the time we get to August and September, they’ll be out of gas. I don’t care how much Kluber acts like a robot, he is still human.

The Indians need to keep the starting rotation fresh through hopefully late October. Forcing them to go nearly complete games most of the time because the bullpen can’t be trusted is not a long term strategy, and Tito knows that.

What can be done?

It’s easy to say that the bullpen just needs to perform better and that will solve everything, but fixing that bullpen is no easy task. Anyone could argue for turning over half of the bullpen and bringing in new guys because basically no one is pitching well right now. It may not be a quick fix.

The faster the bullpen gets back to pitching effectively, the better shape the rotation will be in. Francona won’t have to push his starters as deep into games and he’ll be able to keep them fresh for a playoff run.

Most trades are made in July, but given the dire need to fix the bullpen issues, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Cleveland Indians make a few small additions heading into July to try to find someone who can get guys out.

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Hopefully this bout of ineffectiveness from the bullpen won’t last too long and the rotation won’t have to be pushed too hard just to win games in the first half of the season. Every win counts the same, but some seem more costly than others.