The Cleveland Indians’ 2013 bullpen is starting to take shape. Chris Perez (if he’s healthy) will be joined by Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Rich Hill, and now Cody Allen. But that still leaves two (or maybe three) spots up for grabs over the next week. So in this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our participants: Who should comprise the Indians’ Opening Day bullpen?
Nick Houghtaling: The bullpen is obviously going to include Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, and Joe Smith—three guys who have been staples of the Indians’ bullpen for the last few years. And based on the buzz around Spring Training, I would guess that Nick Hagadone, Matt Albers, Cody Allen and Rich Hill will end up with the rest of the spots. Allen showed definite promise last season, and hopefully we’ll see some more development there. Hill will be a player to watch closely—he’s played sparingly in a reliever role, but has been relatively successful in that time.
It seems like a solid group and I will trust Terry Francona‘s judgement here. But I’m more interested in seeing how the bullpen is shaping up mid-season than how it looks on Opening Day. With pitchers like Shaw, David Huff, Matt Capps, and Scott Barnes in the mix, there are a lot of other options should injury or unproductive play occur.
Evan Vogel: The Indians should keep only seven in the bullpen, allowing the club to carry 12 total starters and keeping a deep enough bench offensively. The bullpen should be:
- Closer: Chris Perez
- Set-up: Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith
- Lefty Specialist: Rich Hill
- Middle Relief: Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw
- Long-man/Mop-up: David Huff
- Sorry about your luck: Cody Allen, Frank Herrmann, Corey Kluber, Scott Barnes, and Nick Hagadone
With improvement to your roster comes difficult decisions. While Allen and Hagadone still possess tremendous potential and could help the Indians on Day One, you have to go with guys who have had prolonged stretches of success in the majors, and that is why I lean towards keeping Hill, Albers, and Shaw. Huff can be kept as a long man/mop-up guy due to his showing over the last two seasons (3.84 ERA, 1.38 WHIP over 77.1 IP) because, at 28, he needs to show that he can be successful in whatever role he is given.
Brian Heise: If it were me making the decision, I would lay out the bullpen as follows: Pestano, Perez, Smith, Hill, Albers, Hagadone, and Allen. I feel like this group of pitchers provides the best mix to be effective. For games when the Tribe is ahead they have the 7, 8, 9 combo of Smith, Pestano, Perez. It’s a combo that is well proven so there’s no reason to change it. Hill and Hagadone could serve primarily as matchup specialists with Hagadone also spelling Smith, Pestano, and possibly even Perez on occassion. Albers and Allen would the serve as long relief and be charged with keeping games close when the Indians are behind. Like I said, this just feels like the right mix of guys to make an effective bullpen.
Steve Kinsella: There is a lot of discussion of who should open the season in the Indians bullpen and since most teams go +12 deep in the pen during the season in the long run it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that at least one reliever has options and someone is ready to step up in a time of need due to injury, poor performance, or needing a fresh arm. I suggested earlier that Chris Perez should start the season on the disabled list but for now I’ll assume that Perez is in the bullpen to start the year. Also, I would have Bryan Shaw with the big club to break camp with Cody Allen getting regular work in Triple-A, but both have options so it’s not an issue. My bullpen breaking camp (with Perez in it) is: Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Rich Hill, Nick Hagadone, Cody Allen, and Matt Albers.
Merritt Rohlfing: Who the Indians will have in the bullpen is a lot different than who I think they should have there. I don’t think the Indians are terrifying enough out of the bullpen. For that reason, I think they should look into summoning a series of demons from the netherrealm in order to really shock guys as they run out. Or burst from a column of fire atop the mound. (They wouldn’t even have to warm up!) I mean, there may be a couple of problems with umpires calling games when the sky turns black and a murder of crows sweeps in and tries to peck at the eyes of opposing hitters, but that’s just a risk you have to be willing to take.
But you don’t just want fireballers, there’s got to be some tricksters, guys with guile, as well as a LOOGY. I think Loki, brother of Thor and known as the Trickster, would fit that perfectly. I’m pretty sure he’s left-handed, or at least ambidextrous, so he should be able to get it done. Though the others in the ‘pen should look out for his pranks and possibly some usurping. Finally, I suggest Xena, Warrior Princess. Considering the action she got on that spinning disc of hers, combined with that war yell of hers, I think she could be a beast, Joe Smith-like but better. Plus, the publicity of having the first woman baseball player ever would be huge. This would be a monstrous bullpen.
Or, you know, Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Corey Kluber, Nick Hagadone and a couple innings gobblers, probably David Huff to tantalize us. But I like my first idea better.