Being frequently called on in the seventh or eighth inning during the 2020 season, Nick Wittgren seems like the front runner to get the first chance at the ninth inning if the team parts with Hand. While Wittgren wasn’t the best reliever out of the bullpen, the team consistently turned to him late in games, which hints that he could be the next closer.
During the 2020 season, Wittgren was called on in 25 games, tossing 23.2 innings. Over that span, he registered a 3.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP while striking out 28 batters. Those numbers are respectable and not too far off from what the Indians saw from Brad Hand over the course of the season.
Wittgren was also used as a closer a few times during the 2019 season, saving four games for the Indians. Those are his only saves in the majors, but in the minor leagues with the Miami Marlins, he was frequently called on in save situations.
During the 2015 season, Wittgren pitched in 51 games for Triple-A New Orleans and saved 19 games for the club. In 2014 with Double-A Jacksonville he registered 20 and in 2013 with A+ Jupiter he had 25.
The experience in closing games is there for Wittgren and the trust with the coaching staff late in games has also been shown. For those two reasons, he could very well be in line to take over the ninth inning in Cleveland.