The injury bug has hit the Cleveland Indians pitching staff throughout the season. Trevor Bauer was the latest victim of this and every day we inch closer to his return. As of September 18, the pitching rotation is Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Michael Clevinger, Shane Bieber and Josh Tomlin. Tomlin would be the first player kicked from the rotation when Bauer returns. The only question is, will Bauer start games upon his return?
In a tweet by @jonmorosi, he mentions Cleveland Indians president Chris Antonetti hinting that Bauer may come out of the bullpen during the postseason. Through Bauer’s seven years in the MLB, he has only come on for relief nine times. Bauer appeared in relief once in 2015, a career-high seven times in 2016 and only once last season. Bauer has also appeared in relief once in the postseason back in 2016 against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
Bauer has been electric this season as a starter and had a case for the Cy Young award before he went down with a stress fracture. In an article, I wrote last month, I highlighted the success of Bauer’s season and how he’s built on previous seasons.
Bauer would join Andrew Miller, Brad Hand, Cody Allen and Adam Cimber in the bullpen. This bullpen has a lot of high-profile names, but they have struggled to close games out or even keep the game in reach for the team at the end of games. Bauer has a chance to bring stability to the bullpen that will be so crucial to the success of the team in October.
Cleveland has a hard time having a fully healthy staff going into the playoffs and this season they will already be down a piece going into October, Danny Salazar has missed the entire 2018 season so far and isn’t expected to be back before the end of the postseason. In previous years, the Indians were without half their pitching staff and they still managed to have success. In 2016, the Cleveland Indians was without Carrasco and Salazar which were two of their top three starters.
As I mentioned the Indians have had their success without their key starters, but this postseason will be different. Currently, Cleveland has Tomlin as their fifth starter and he has been well below average. Tomlin is 1-5 this season with a 6.49 ERA and a career-low .167 winning percentage. Having Tomlin start a game against either Houston, New York or Oakland would be an automatic knockout punch against the Indians.
Now, while teams don’t usually run a five-man rotation during the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if Tomlin makes the team for the playoffs as it’s obvious he has been unable to make any sort of impact on the team so far. Cleveland will already be playing at max five games in their ALDS series against the Astros and Kluber will more than likely be pitching game one and then turning around and pitching game five.
Adding a more than likely rusty Trevor Bauer could be problematic but if he were to replace a pitcher in the first series, it might be Michael Clevinger who hasn’t been as dominant as teammate Carlos Carrasco. Bauer coming out of the bullpen would be interesting and could lead to the stability to the bullpen. One thing we have to take care of first is making sure that Bauer is healthy and ready to go before he steps out of the mound.
We here at CST wish Bauer a speedy recovery and a dominant showing in October and beyond!