Cleveland Indians: Emmanuel Clase to miss 8-12 weeks

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 04: Emmanuel Clase #43 of the Texas Rangers looks on before a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 04, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Rangers 4-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 04: Emmanuel Clase #43 of the Texas Rangers looks on before a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 04, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Rangers 4-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Indians will be without yet another pitcher for the foreseeable future, as Emmanuel Clase is set to miss at least two months.

If MLB told teams to report back to their cities of origin and await Opening Day without a true preseason camp, the Cleveland Indians might be the first to board a plane.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, so I’ll let Zack Meisel hit you with today’s update on hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase:

Indians reliever Emmanuel Clase has an upper back strain and is expected to miss 8-12 weeks. He’ll be re-evaluated weekly.

The prized player coming back in the Corey Kluber trade could be out until at least the middle of May if the less optimistic end of that timeline proves true. Clase’s best-case scenario upon being traded to Cleveland was a high-leverage role setting up Brad Hand–or even wrestling away the closer job altogether if Hand continued to struggle as he had late last year.

Now his best-case scenario is simply being available for two-thirds of the season.

Clase, along with fellow flamethrower James Karinchak, personifies the upside of Cleveland’s bullpen. If the Indians are to become one of the league’s most feared teams late in games again, there’s a pretty good chance Clase and Karinchak have to have something to do with it.

Even more detrimental to the Indians than this haymaker across the jaw of their bullpen’s ceiling, though, is that their bullpen depth was already not in a position to take such a hit. Beyond Hand, who himself is something of a question mark for 2020, the Indians’ bullpen is mostly a group that dodged dangerous underlying metrics en route to a solid ERA last season.

Next. Can Nick Wittgren remain a bullpen workhorse?. dark

Clase joins Mike Clevinger among Indians pitchers with relatively drawn-out injury timelines, and Carlos Carrasco remains day-to-day. There’s some glass-half-full point to make here about adversity breeding greatness. Maybe there’s truth in that perspective, but it also wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Indians’ best and most important players were actually on the field.