With playoff season nearly upon us, the questions begin to circle about how the Cleveland Indians should manage their ALDS roster. We take a look at an important part of that roster, the bullpen.
At this point, we know what the Cleveland Indians pitching is capable of. They have the potential to wipe out an entire lineup using just their remarkable starters. While that sounds well and good, the Indians won’t be able to play their starters too deep into playoff games. They’ll likely have to rely on their bullpen for much of the series, and there are plenty of ways to use this loaded bullpen.
It’s no secret that the Indians bullpen was notorious for having issues for much of the season. Even still, they’ve had issues with blowing games after making the move to add closer Brad Hand. Obviously, the Indians can’t afford to have that issue in the postseason. Let’s get a little in depth of how they can utilize their bullpen for success.
Use the power-trio the right (or left) way.
The Indians have three arms in their bullpen that boast some incredible numbers. Cody Allen, Brad Hand, and Andrew Miller can strike fear into any batter. Obviously, the Indians can’t use all three every night, so it’s imperative that they use them to their full potential.
That means that in the best case scenario, save Allen and Hand for closing roles on opposite nights, with Andrew Miller coming in to set up, along with fellow lefty Oliver Perez. There will likely be nights when everyone in the trio is used, but that should be saved for a must-win game.
Make the most of Oliver Perez.
Speaking of OP, Perez needs to be used in more crucial situations. It’s rare for him to have a bad night, and while the Indians like to use him in matchup-based situations, he’s perfectly capable of working multiple outs.
Both lefties and righties are batting below .200 against Perez. He’s exceptional when it comes to facing right-handed batters. With a plethora of righties in the Astros lineup including Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Jose Altuve; Oliver Perez may be the perfect secret weapon for the Tribe.
Take advantage of having starters in the ‘pen.
It’s likely that if Shane Beiber makes the playoff roster, he’ll be utilized as a bullpen pitcher. He would be capable of giving the Tribe multiple innings to save the starters a heavy workload. Beiber has struggled when working through the order multiple times, but if he can come in to give the Indians two or three innings, his role will be a critical help.
It’s important to mention the Trevor Bauer‘s role in the ALDS is still up in the air as he continues to recover from his injury. Should he be put in the bullpen, Bauer would easily be capable of pitching to the ninth inning should the pitch count allow it. Bauer is truly the biggest player to watch for the Tribe, and his role in the postseason will be critical for Cleveland’s success.
There will always be questions concerning how the Indians manage their postseason roster, but this should hopefully give us an idea of how Cleveland could (and should) use their bullpen against the Astros.