LAS VEGAS — The Indians’ bullpen, a sea of tranqulity for so long, spent last season in rough waters.
Cody Allen and Andrew Miller were never quite right and the set-up men were spotty until lefty Oliver Perez came along in June and the Indians traded for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber in July.
So what awaits the Tribe in 2019?
Allen, Miller, Perez and Josh Tomlin are free agents. Nick Goody and Danny Salazar are recovering from right elbow and shoulder surgeries, respectively. Cody Anderson ended last year healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, but he has not pitched in the big league since 2016.
The healthy arms on the 40-man roster include Hand, Cimber, Dan Otero, Tyler Olson, Neil Ramirez, Jon Edwards, Jefry Rodriguez, Ben Taylor, Chih-Wei Hu and Walter Lockett. Rodriguez, Hu and Lockett were acquired in trades this winter.
“We know that we have some work to do out there still,” said manager Terry Francona on Wednesday at the winter meetings. “Oliver Perez kind of saved us last season. It’s amazing when one guy pitches that well how it affects everybody else.”
Francona named Edwards, who made just nine appearances for the Tribe last season, as a “huge sleeper” when it comes to making the pen. He added that it will be nice to have a healthy Goody back. He made just 12 appearances last season before injuring his elbow.
While Hand pitched well as a set-up man and closer after the trade from San Diego, Cimber struggled. He went 0-3 with a 4.03 ERA after going 3-5 with a 3.17 ERA with the Padres.
“I think Cimber was the typical guy who came in (to a new team) and tried to do too much,” said Francona. “He’s going to be good and Hand is one of the best pitchers in the game.”
The Indians led the AL in bullpen ERA in 2017, but ranked 13th last season with a 4.60 ERA.
What Francona is looking for out of the reshuffled bullpen is consistency.
“The hardest thing for a manager is when you don’t know what you’re going to get (out of a reliever),” he said.