Cleveland 3 up, 3 down
The past week and a half has been crazy not only for Cleveland, but for all of baseball. The trade deadline has been frantic, with several high-profile stars flying across the country.
For Cleveland, that meant four trades that accomplished a few goals, including the goal of converting short-term control into long-term value and decluttering the outfield situation. It also included the departure of manager Terry Francona, who will miss the remainder of the 2021 season to deal with health concerns. All the while, Cleveland has remained on the sidelines of the American League playoff race.
Here’s a look at a few recent trends on the list.
Cal Quantrill advocates for future pitch plans
This was supposed to happen in March and April. It actually happened in July.
Ever since Cleveland acquired Cal Quantrill from the San Diego Padres on last year’s trade deadline from Mike Clevinger, the team has been high on him whether that means he would be in the rotation or in the ‘bullpen. The intention, however, was to see if he could grab a spot in the starting rotation. That was the goal this spring, but he and Logan Allen had very different camps in Allen’s favor, and Quantrill was placed in the opening day reliever box.
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Fast forward to July, and Quantrill, now fully expanded, reversed course. In his last five starts, Quantrill has posted a 1.86 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 29 innings. He took advantage of the dire pitching situation about as well as anyone. It was this situation that opened up opportunities for him to start. Cleveland will have a lot to do once Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale return to the rotation, so Quantrill and the other young pitching options on the 40-man roster are all effectively making their case.
Eli Morgan builds on solid month
If Quantrill isn’t the pitcher who has taken the best advantage of opportunities given the spate of pitching injuries this season, then it’s Eli Morgan.
Morgan was knocked down in his MLB debut, which took place under the worst circumstances: in a blustery rainstorm that ultimately cut the game short because he was so harsh and facing a talented Toronto Blue Jays side. . On Morgan’s second outing, he was hit in the arm by a comebacker in the first set. It wasn’t exactly the start of a storybook.
But after a few tough outings, Morgan has seemingly built on every start since that time. In his last four outings, he’s only pitched all five innings once, but also hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs, which at least represented important steps in the right direction. His best outing of the season came on Monday, as he held those same Blue Jays – in much better weather – with two earned runs in six innings and nine strikeouts, which tied a career-high .
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Myles Straw represents Cleveland’s hope in centerfield
Cleveland had been trying to acquire Myles Straw for almost a year and finally did so on Friday before the deadline. And at Straw, Cleveland’s hope is that he can stabilize what has been the most fluid place in the roster in recent years: central ground.
Straw’s time with Cleveland got off to a quick start. He’s 4-for-13 with Cleveland, including a homer, which is only his fourth in 607 batting appearances. Defensively, he knocked over a ball on Teoscar Hernandez’s stick in the ninth inning of Monday’s game, which could have reversed the result before Cleveland had a chance to score three points on the board in the 10th.
JC Mejia and Sam Hentges fall behind in rotation order
Whether or not it’s a few weeks away before Opening Day 2022, Cleveland’s rotation is likely to return to health, meaning Bieber, Civale and Zach Plesac will all be healthy at the same time. Once that happens, that leaves two spots in Cleveland’s rotation for a group that has collectively gained some major league experience this season.
The group includes Triston McKenzie, Quantrill, Morgan, Allen, JC Mejia and Sam Hentges. Two of those six will likely gain places, and that group could also be joined by Scott Moss and Carlos Vargas, who are already on the 40-man roster.
McKenzie, Quantrill, and Morgan have enjoyed varying degrees of success over the past few weeks, but Mejia and Hentges have fallen a bit behind. Mejia has posted a 9.87 ERA in his last 17 innings. Hentges has been roughed up on three straight outings – 16 earned runs in 10 innings – and hasn’t pitched since July 7.
Bradley Zimmer, Oscar Mercado to play the corners
Straw was brought into central pitch and is under club control until the 2025 season. That, added to Josh Naylor’s injury and Eddie Rosario’s trade, means Bradley Zimmer, Oscar Mercado and Harold Ramirez will primarily play outfield corner spots for at least the rest of the season.
Ramirez had the best offensive season in the group, reaching 0.265 with a 0.715 OPS and six homers, 15 doubles and 28 RBIs in 70 games. But Zimmer and Mercado, in particular, might have seen their collective actions drop a bit with the addition of Straw, who is a strong defensive fielder. Zimmer hits .245 with a .687 OPS and continues to show glimpses of his potential surrounded by slow stretches. Mercado took a step forward (.629 OPS) from its nightmarish 2020 season (.348 OPS), but it was a low bar to cross, and has yet to find the kind of success it has. obtained during his 2019 rookie season.
Rosario’s business was to save money and clear places for Cleveland in order to understand, to a greater extent, what they might have in a few of their young options.
The bad exits of James Karinchak multiply
James Karinchak struggled to get back to James Karinchak’s levels.
Karinchak struggled last month at an 8.68 ERA with seven strikeouts in 9 innings. It’s a short time, but it’s enough to open your eyes after her scorching start to the year and her 2020 season.
Acting manager DeMarlo Hale recently said the coaching staff are working with Karinchak, but he also won’t be running away from a key reliever in the Cleveland relievers box.
“Well, we went to see him again in Chicago, put him back on the bump. He’s a big part of that ‘pen,’ Hale said.“ He’s been successful. I said it before, I won’t be afraid to put it back there. I think about what I could watch as always [are] the clashes that maybe it’s a little extra, and it could be the seventh or the eighth round. So we’ll see how the game plays out. But the clashes, which he might face, might be a more determining factor in when I use him. “
Ryan Lewis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.