At the start of the season the Indians had one of the best starting pitching rotations in the American League. The status of the rotation looks different a month in. Is there a reason to be concerned?
Shane Bieber – Cleveland’s ace has been breaking records left and right with each start. Bieber has shown consistency and even more growth than last season. He wanted to work on pitching longer in games and he’s been able to do that. There isn’t any concern with Bieber.
Aaron Civale – The right hander has a 4-0 record with a 2.94. Civale has been solid thus far in the season. The Tribe has given Civale run support during his starts. He looks to be a possible number two with the way the rotation is changing.
Zach Plesac – Plesac was strong in 2020 and it’s came as a bit of a surprise to see him struggle in several starts this season. He holds a 5.81 ERA with a 1-3 record. A positive sign came with Plesac’s last start against the Twins. He was dominant going seven plus innings. His ability to bounce back after getting shelled by the White Sox shows his mental strength. He worked with pitching coach Carl Willis to get his front leg off the rubber a little more and that adjustment helped his breaking ball. He’s not out of the woods yet but his work is trending upward. A few more starts will reveal if he’s been able to settle down and get his rhythm back.
Triston McKenzie – the young kid fondly known as “Sticks” due to his frame has been kept on a pitch count to ease him into the starting role. He has raw talent. His mechanics need to be refined as the organization doesn’t want to risk injury putting too much on him early. McKenzie has 18 innings pitched with a 6.27 ERA. This includes a bizarre game against the White Sox on May 1. Unlike Bieber, McKenzie earned a record with that start however it wasn’t a positive one. He is the first player to pitch less than two innings, strike out six and allow for five or more runs. The only ball put in play was a grand slam by Tim Anderson off of McKenzie. The questions swirl if the kid has what it takes now or does he need more time for development.
Logan Allen- the number five spot in the rotation was a battle in spring training. Allen was given the role but after being unable to produce he was optioned to the alternate site. Cal Quantrill had been in the mix in spring training for the five spot. Quantrill seemed to be the choice to take Allen’s place, but the Tribe has chosen Sam Hentges. The left hander had his first major league win on April 25 during a bullpen game.
Nick Sandlin- the Indians keep calling up pitchers and Sandlin is the latest. He will start out as a reliever but with the questions around the number five spot he may find himself there at some point this season. The side arm pitcher made his MLB on May 1 against the White Sox. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Cleveland’s catcher Austin Hedges said after the game several Chicago batters expressed that Sandlin’s pitches were “nasty.” He earned a bit of respect from the opposing team in that inning.
While there may be concerns with the starters and who fits where the bullpen is excellent. This will be imperative as they may be relied on even more while the Indians sort out the rotation puzzle.