Terry Francona loves his relief pitchers, and the decision to carry more relievers than most ball clubs is certainly paying off as of late.
The Cleveland Indians have played 45 innings in the last four games, including two 13-inning contests in a row. Francona did have to use Josh Tomlin a day before his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers, but other than that instance he has managed the extended innings pretty well.
Francona was able to toy with his bullpen after Danny Salazar was sent down to triple-A and Zach McAllister was placed on the 15-day disabled list. There were some new names thrown in the mix, like T.J. House, Kyle Crockett and Mark Lowe (House and Lowe are still on the active roster). House has performed particularly well and is making a spot start today with only four active starting pitchers.
The regulars have also stepped up during this stretch, and it was much-needed considering the shaky starting pitching. The bullpen has worked a total of 24.1 innings over the last four games (including 11 innings on Wednesday), only allowing six earned runs. This is fantastic production for a unit that was a big question mark coming into this season.
The bullpen as a whole is being worked very hard right now, but their effort is keeping the Tribe afloat for the time being. The starting pitching needs get back to their early-season form and fast. Even though the bullpen’s heroics are a great sign for the rest of the season, it is most likely unsustainable.