I forget who said it or what movie or TV show it’s from, but I do remember the saying and it goes something along these lines: “after considering all outcomes with no reasonable ending, we must, therefore, come to this conclusion: the illogical is logical.”1 When looking at the Indians roster before the season, the two biggest deficiencies on the roster were the outfield and the bullpen. Neither were added to in any meaningful way, as Carlos Gonzalez is still getting up to speed in Columbus along with spring training star Oscar Mercado for what can only be considered service time concerns and the only “additions” done was re-signing Oliver Perez and bringing back Neil Ramirez and Dan Otero. The outfield still needs some work, but for the most part, the bullpen has actually been…good thus far?
As with looking at any figure five games in, there is always the caveat of small sample size, so let’s just get that out of the way now. Most of these pitchers have only recorded four to six outs, with the low end being one and Dan “The Last Mafia Member” Otero on the high end with getting nine outs. But heading into the season, even thinking of putting any kind of a load on guys like Jon Edwards, Adam Cimber, and Tyler Olson was near vomit-inducing.
With the up and down of what should be the strength of this team, the starting pitchers, it’s undoubtedly a great feeling for manager Terry Francona to be able to call on almost any pitcher to come in without issue. I say *almost any* because there have been blips. Perez, who was in many ways a savior of the bullpen in 2018, has been the relegated to LOOGY territory and hasn’t even been good at that. Facing only three batters on the season, Perez has hit one of those, and only recorded one out while giving up one run.
The other guy sharing the doghouse with Mr. Perez is Neil Ramirez. Much like Perez last year, Ramirez came to the organization mid-season and righted the ship, pitching in 47 games for the Tribe and recording an 11.09 K/9 rate. Much unlike last year, indicating it was the exception and not the rule, Ramirez has been literal garbage on the mound in 2019. Ramirez has faced nine batters in 2019 and only retired five of them, allowing four runs, giving up three hits, one of those a home run, walking a batter and only recording one strikeout. When your outs-to-batters faced ratio is that close to .500, you know something is amiss.
But rather than be negative, as I often am, let’s look at those that have performed well. Closer Brad Hand has done his part, though a might shakily. With two saves on the season, Hand has been called on the second most out of the bullpen, facing 11 batters and recording seven outs with no runs allowed and three Ks. As already said, Otero has been the “long man” with 3IP, no runs allowed, three Ks. Adam Cimber, for all the grief we gave him last year, appears to have settled down in 2019 and has yet to allow a hit to the six batters he’s faced.
Yes, it’s early. Yes, these are small samples, but with as much of a garbage fire the pen was for 2018, seeing better results out of this group is amazing. All of this comes with usual stalwarts Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both pitching clunkers early on in the season, meaning the bullpen has had to carry more of the load than expected. If this continues, the Indians might be able to weather more of the storm of the 162 game march than we originally thought.