Cleveland Indians now set for back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend
When Ernie Banks said “let’s play two” I can’t imagine he was thinking to do it back-to-back days, but that is exactly what the Cleveland Indians will have to do. After Friday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays saw the wonderful Lake Erie rain and wind, the gusts worsened into Saturday’s forecast and forced the postponement of the second game of the series. With Saturday’s game turning into a Sunday doubleheader, the Tribe will have two doubleheaders in a row on Memorial Day weekend.
As reported by Mandy Bell on Twitter, Cleveland and Toronto will play a traditional doubleheader on Monday, meaning two 7-inning contests. Monday will see two more games for the Tribe, this pair against the Chicago White Sox, giving the squad four games over the span of two days. Now, the four games in two days could be viewed as both a positive and a negative. Luckily, the Tribe’s bullpen will get an off day to recover from the marathon that was Friday night’s game as well as having an off day this coming Thursday.
Even with the pair of off days within the week, having six games in four days will take a toll on the team, specifically a starting rotation that is struggling as it is. A 27th player will be able to be added for each set of doubleheaders, but that still only solves maybe one of the games on the docket over the next handful of days.
As Bell also reported, the two games on Sunday will be tossed by Aaron Civale and Sam Hentges. Civale has the potential to pitch all seven innings of his game, which would be another big step in giving the bullpen a break. As for Hentges, he could pitch at least half the game as well. If he could go five and the bullpen only has to cover two innings all day, that would be huge.
As for the two games against the White Sox, Triston McKenzie is expected to serve as the 27th man and will start one of the two games. If Civale and Hentges can come through on Sunday with quality starts, perhaps the second game turns into a bullpen day beginning with a bullpen arm that was formerly a starter, like Jean Carlos Mejia or Cal Quantrill. That’s not exactly what you want to do against a team that you are fighting against for the division, but there’s few other options to explore.
Going through the club’s most recent starts, the only other options on the current roster for starting pitchers would be Shane Bieber and Eli Morgan, who pitched Thursday and Friday respectively. Bieber will only have three days of rest on Monday, so odds are he won’t be ready. It’s not impossible, but saving him for Monday is the better option. Morgan’s case will be even less. Despite throwing only 2.2 innings, he would still be on just two days rest on Monday, making a bullpen day seem likely unless another move is made.
While McKenzie will serve as the extra man on Monday, the Tribe get to fill that spot on Sunday as well. There’s only three other pitchers on the 40-man roster, being Logan Allen, Scott Moss and Carlos Vargas. With Vargas in Akron, Allen and Moss are probably the only options if the Tribe want an extra pitcher on Sunday. It’s been over a week since either pitched, so there’s the option of starting one of them on Sunday and bumping either Civale or Hentges to Monday to really utilize the extra roster spot to help out the rotation.
As for the offense, the extra games could actually be a really good thing for the Cleveland Indians. The club has been experimenting with different ideas in the lineup, especially since Owen Miller was called up and created more flexibility in terms of positions. The four games in two days will give the coaching staff the ability to try a few different combinations of the lineup to see what works best in a short period of time.
This will be a tough stretch for the Cleveland Indians, but luckily it’s happening early in the season and within range of an off day for the team to catch their breath. While difficult, it could provide a great opportunity to try a few different players at the big league level or at a different position.