The Cleveland Indians have just been dealt a huge blow with the 80-game suspension of newly acquired relief pitcher Emmanuel Clase.
When the Cleveland Indians traded veteran ace Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers, they were expecting to get back one of the games’ best young power pitchers in Emmanuel Clase who could help anchor the back of the bullpen for years.
As if the injury in Spring Training wasn’t enough, the Tribe will now be without their prized new acquisition for 80 games once the season starts as Clase has been banned for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
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Clase was already expected to miss the first two months of the season with an arm injury but with the season’s start being delayed it looked like there was a chance he could miss minimal or no time.
Things were looking up, which was good news for fans who were mostly sour on acquiring a relief pitcher (and backup outfielder) for a pitcher as good as Kluber.
However, this suspension now raises even more questions about that trade and whether or not the Tribe got enough in return for the former Cy Young winner.
Even if one wants to completely separate this suspension from the trade (and I’m not sure how one doe that), it is a huge blow to the Tribe’s chances in 2020 once the season gets underway.
The Indians were likely to rely heavily on Clase who’s cutter touched 100 mph. With Oliver Perez getting up there in age and the new three batter rule, the Indians very likely were gonna be using Clase in high leverage situations setting up closer Brad Hand.
While Clase only appeared in 21 games last year, he struck out 21 in 23 1/3 innings while holding batters to a .230 average. He also posted a 1.11 WHIP and had a solid walk rate of just 6.4 percent.
All three of those numbers would have put him top five among Tribe relievers last year (minimum 10 innings), and one of the relievers ahead of him, Tyler Clippard, is now gone.
The Tribe’s rotation is also not as strong as it has been in years past. Gone are Kluber and Trevor Bauer and guys like Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco have already been hit by the injury bug in 2020.
The Indians are going to have to lean on that bullpen more in 2020 than they likely have in the past and losing Clase is potentially devastating.
This will force players like James Hoyt, Hunter Wood, and Phil Maton into bigger roles and put more pressure on guys like Nick Wittgren and potentially rookie James Karinchak. Clase was arguably the Tribe’s biggest addition this winter, up there with Cesar Hernandez and Domingo Santana.
Losing him, potentially for the year and at least 80 games (plus the playoffs) is putting them in a hole that they didn’t expect to be in. It’s not a season-ender by any means but given who Clase was acquired for and the state of the roster, it’s a pretty big blow for a team with little margin for error.