CLEVELAND, Ohio – This is not a good time to be a member of the replacement starting rotation for the Indians.
For the third time in as many days, the Indians have chosen a starting pitcher for Class AAA Columbus as they try to reform the rotation to start the game after the All-Star break.
Lefty Sam Hentges was selected for Class AAA Columbus on Friday. Right-handed Triston McKenzie took his place on the 26-man list and started against the Royals on Friday night at Progressive Field.
For the past three days, Hentges, right-wing JC Mejia and left-wing Logan Allen have been elected to Columbus. When Zach Plesac, Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale started on the injury list from May 23 to June 21
Mejia and Hentges made a total of 15 starts. Allen, a member of the opening day rotation for five starts, was called back to two starts before being selected for Columbus on Wednesday. Mejia was selected Thursday when Plesac came off the injury list to start against Kansas City.
Right now, rotation looks like this: Plesac, McKenzie, Cal Quantrill and Eli Morgan. Bieber and Civale are “weeks away” from resuming the tournament, according to Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations. Who knows what rotation will look like when the Indians come out of the break for a six-game trip to Oakland and Houston?
Manager Terry Francona says each starter will know their role before the All-Star break. But the rotation, he said, is still being worked on.
“We’ll fix it as we go,” Francona said. “Carl (Willis, pitch coach) and I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do in the first series (vs. Oakland). But we have to get through the next few days. We never want the guys to go home during the break without knowing when to throw up. ”
Plesac and McKenzie were part of the opening day’s rotation, but it will take a while before the entire group reunites. By the way, McKenzie has jumped between the Indians and Columbus five times already this season.
Whether Hentges, Mejia or Allen return to Progressive Field this year, it will depend on their performance in Columbus and the health and performance of a rotation that continues to be recreated on the go.
Hentges, for example, was sent to Columbus with a plan to use his fastball more.
“We want him to really try to get on his fastball,” Francona said. “He has a good breaking ball, but to maintain consistent success he needs to use his fast ball and not just as standard on other courses. He understands.”
Francona does not know if Hentges will pitch as a starter or relief for the Clippers. He said he would play shorter appearances.
“We use him in shorter strokes to begin with so we can get him back to throwing his fastball with conviction and into strikes,” Francona said. “And if he does not throw it to strike, he will come back with it again and not necessarily by default a breaking ball.”
According to baseballsavant.com, the opposition hit .467 from Hentges’ four-stitch fastball. They hit .164 from his basket, .316 from his slider and .381 from his sinker. In 15 games, the opposition hit .343 from the 6-6 left-hander.
“You’re getting into a major league game and you’re trying to survive and get what you can,” Francona said. “But for the life and success of his career, he has to throw his fast ball. We saw him touch 97 mph in spring training. It was like ‘here, hit it’ and it’s gotten away from him. “
Hentges went 1-4 with an 8.23 ERA in 15 games, including eight starts. Mejia went 1-4 with a 7.42 ERA in 10 games, including eight starts. Allen went 1-5 with a 9.13 ERA in seven starts, five came in April.
Nr. 1: Speed to burn
It is easy to see what Franmil Reyes at 6-5 and 265 pounds brings the Indians. He showed it with his game-winning three-run homer in the ninth inning Thursday night against the Royals.
Francona, however, sees more than power,
“I told him last night, ‘Hey, we’re going through a tough time here,'” Francona said, referring to the nine-game losing streak. “I said to him, ‘The way you run the bases,’ because he really puts in a good effort on the bases, ‘which brings a lot of energy to our dugout.’ I told him ‘do not forget it because it means a lot to me and a lot to other people.’
“That’s what leadership is.”
Nr. 2: How to deal with stage fright
McKenzie, in his last start in the major leagues on June 12, did not come out of the first inning against Seattle. He threw 32 spots, went four and allowed a hit.
After the game, he told reporters that one of the reasons for his short start was that he was not used to throwing in front of so many people. The audience at Progressive Field was 20,116, and McKenzie said he was a little overwhelmed by it.
It was pointed out to Francona that a good size crowd was expected for Friday’s match. It was Dollar Dog night and there were fireworks afterwards.
“I would ask our guys not to have Dollar Dog tonight, but I do not think they will go after it,” Francona said with a smile. “Of course, as an organization, we have visited a number of topics with Triston, but not necessarily hit him over the head with it. I think it’s a microcosm of other things. ”
Nr. 3: Handle with care
Francona has proceeded cautiously with Reyes and catcher Roberto Perez since coming off the injured list on July 2 and 3, respectively. That could change after the All-Star break.
“I would say when we come back after the break,” Francona said, “that we are probably in a situation where we can start playing guys as the competition requires it as opposed to a schedule. But if necessary, we will do it for as long as we need it. ”
Nr. 4: Finally
Bieber started throwing weighted balls on Friday for the first time since going on the injury list on June 14th. “He was revved up,” Francona said. Bieber also gets his right shoulder examined this weekend. Civil (right middle finger) continues to play catch. … Bobby Bradley went into Friday’s game and hit .327 (16-for-49) with six homers and 11 RBIs at Progressive Field since his recall on June 5th. … The Indians are 37-9 when they score four or more runs and 6-33 with three or fewer. … A Japanese reporter asked Francona if he had a message for his right hand Daisuke Matsuzaka, who recently announced his retirement while sitting in Japan. Matsuzaka struck for Francona in Boston from 2007-11. Francona said: “I congratulate him on a wonderful career in the United States and Japan and hope he has as much fun and success in his second career as he had in his first.”
New Indian face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Native American-themed coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
More Indians coverage
RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs obtained in Bauers agreement
The Indians beat the Royals, 7-4 on Reyes walk-off HR
Protest over no-hitter to be filed with MLB
Can teams repel another attack from Zombie baseball?
Looking for help with the farm system, not to find much: Pluto
Indians-Royals series preview, pitching matchups
The losing streak and the realities of 2021; what’s next? Podcast
Rays complete DH sweeping, 8-1, 4-0, with 7-inning no-hitter
Eddie Rosario at IL, Logan Allen chose Columbus