Sam Hentges is one step closer to returning to the Cleveland Guardians bullpen. The 26-year old lefty is set to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron Wednesday according to reports.
This is just the latest step in the rehab process for Hentges after he was shut down in early March with shoulder inflammation. Hentges threw two simulated games last week as he continues to work his way back up to Cleveland, and one he returns to the Guardians he will continue to be a key arm in Terry Francona's bullpen.
After appearing in 30 games during the 2021 season with unimpressive results, Hentges was able to carve out a meaningful role in Cleveland. 12 of Hentges' 30 appearances as a rookie were as a starter, allowing 36 runs in 41 innings, including six runs on three separate occasions. It was fairly clear that a spot in the starting rotation was not quite for Hentges. 2022 saw Hentges as a full time option in the pen and that saw his performance improve across the board in 57 games.
For Hentges it became clear that the bullpen was going to be the best path forward for him. Being able to have a left handed arm like this come out of the bullpen and be part of a group of arms capable of shutting down anyone on any given day is a fantastic asset for Cleveland.
While as a group Cleveland's bullpen has pitched well for the most part, they are not yet at the level that was expected of them coming into this season. There is a certain level of expectations when it comes to this unit and they are yet to get there. Once Hentges comes back into the mix it should help stabalize a few things and put some relief arms towards the bottom of the totem pole in better spots moving forward.