How Long is the Leash on Indians Closer Brad Hand? Who Could Take the Role If He Falters?
The closer is one of the most important parts of a baseball team. After all, that player is in charge of pitching to make the final three outs in a game to secure a victory. The Cleveland Indians have left-hander Brad Hand in that position.
Last season, Hand had 34 saves compared to only five blown saves, an earned run average of 3.30 and a 6-4 overall record. The 30-year-old is on the last year of a contract. However, the Indians do have a team option for the 2021 season.
Should Hand regress this upcoming year as the closer for the team, who would take over the position? It would be a difficult decision for manager Terry Francona.
A player in the bullpen such as right-hander Nick Wittgren does have some experience with closing. After all, last season, the 29-year-old had four saves for the Indians and a 2.81 ERA overall in 55 total appearances. This did come with two blown saves.
Most likely, the Indians will stick with Hand unless blowing saves becomes a continuous pattern. After all, remember it is a shortened year to begin with in baseball. Thus, the amount of opportunities will be much less than a regular 162-game season.
Finally, a fun nuance to consider is starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Yes, “Cookie” did pitch in relief last year and even had a save. This because of a return from a severe illness that had Carrasco out more than 12 weeks. For 2020, Carrasco will be in the starting role.
Overall, a best-case scenario is that Hand stays the closer for the entire season. With the aforementioned shortened year, each game is of more value than it usually does. Thus, each save opportunity means more, too.
Let’s hope the Tribe give Brad Hand a plethora of opportunities throughout a season that is filled with winning and saves.