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Indians bullpen struggles leave them at .500 after the break
Posted By Bradley Ross On Jul 21 2011 @ 12:33 am In Cleveland Indians | No Comments
The Bad news: The Indians bullpen gave up leads and the team was .500 on a road trip against 2 sub-.500 teams. The Good News: The Indians have struggled on the road all year and managed to go .500 through 8 games despite the bullpen struggling to maintain leads. The Indians definitely did not have their best series’ this week, but its all about perspective sometimes. While they were only able to go .500, they are below .500 on the road for the year while both teams they faced are above .500 on the road. Statistically, its a win in that sense. Its also encouraging that the only reason they weren’t better is because of something that likely won’t happen much. The Indians bullpen has been strong, but they had serious struggles this week.
There is no real reason to worry that the bullpen is just going to flat out collapse. All of these guys except Vinnie Pestano have at least a full year before 2010 of excellent pitching in relief. Pestano however came out of this week the cleanest of any of the Indians’ relief pitchers. Tony Sipp, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, and Joe Smith all got rocked.However, all of these guys are veterans who can bounce back and the only one with less than 2 years experience (Perez), has ice flowing through is veins (and fireflowing through his arm). Raffy Perez has been in the majors so long now he is nearing in on pitching as many innings for the Tribe as Rafael Betancourt did all those years. The only there are real concerns about are Frank Hermann and Chad Durbin, but those guys get the “junk innings” anyways, when the Indians are up or down by a wide margin.
The Indians “lost” Grady Sizemore to another knee injury, though at this point I would not call that a major loss. Sizemore has been struggling all year, though he may have been finally picking it up and was having a halfway decent July before he got hurt. The biggest problem is that the Indians are very devoid of outfielders right now. Currently, Brantley is sick and Travis Buck got hit in the head. These are just day-to-day ailments, but they really hinder the Indians’ depth in the Outfield. Their depth is so bad, they were forced to play Luis Valbuena who started getting action after the All-Star break. While Sizemore may have been sucking, I would rather have struggling Grady in the lineup than Valbuena. Valbuena is one of the most offensively inept players in the Indians’ organization and may be doomed to the fate of being another AAAA prospect (like Andy marte).
The Indians hitting and pitching were just enough to keep them in games. Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona both had decent outings, but weren’t all that great. Justin masterson even had a mediocre start this week. While only a couple guys are really hitting well, somehow this team was able to stay in games. Hopefully David Huffwill provide a spark in the rotation that it could sorely need right now. It seems like Huff and Jeanmar Gomez’ two starts this week were sort of “tryouts” for Talbot’s spot in the rotation. Gomez however has shown this year that he could maybe use another year in Columbus to refine his approach.
Even if Huff is decent, it would be beneficial for the Indians to look for a veteran starter at the trading deadline. Huff has had some bad moments in the past and Camona could collapse at any time. Also, younger arms often have worn down and become less effective once the innings add up so one of the Indians’ top 3 could start to struggle (and we may already be seeing it with Carlos Carrasco who is 0-3). This will be the first time in a while, the Indians should be (and may actually be) buyers at the deadline. Choo’s timetable for return is not set yet (though it should be soon) and even when he is back, the Indians could use at least one more bat. Its hard to say what Choo’s production will be (or what Austin Kearns’ will be in a month).
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