The Cleveland Indians were supposed to be done.
Shane Bieber hit the injured list at a time when Zach Plesac was already out injured, thus dooming the team’s chances of success in 2021.
Well, the Indians are now 38-28 on the year and 10-4 in their last 14 games.
Playing an easy schedule the past week has helped, however, taking care of business against bad teams is what all winning teams should do.
The Indians just pulled off a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles after taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners.
Up next is a weekend series against another terrible team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Once again, there will be no excuses.
The wild card here is how the Indians will deploy their starting pitching.
Terry Francona has revealed his plans.
Tentative starting pitching plan for CLE this weekend in Pittsburgh:
Friday: J.C. Mejía
Saturday: Cal Quantrill
Sunday: Sam Hentges
Mejía & Quantrill will, technically, be on short rest, though they each logged only four innings last time out. Hentges threw an inning today.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) June 17, 2021
Two Players On Short Rest
This is where the fun begins.
Francona is now using a strategy where the likes of Jean Carlos Mejia and Cal Quantrill can throw three or four innings, and then be back on a quicker schedule.
Mejia last pitched Monday against the Orioles and threw 55 pitches in four innings.
He allowed two earned runs, but did have three strikeouts.
The bullpen then provided five innings of one-run baseball to secure the win.
A similar formula was followed a day later when Quantrill threw 60 pitches in four innings of work.
He allowed one run and the bullpen allowed another in a 7-2 Indians victory.
Both pitchers were pulled early, wins were secured, and now they are both available on short rest.
However, pitchers like Trevor Bauer have challenged the idea of needing the normal schedule used in MLB.
And considering both didn’t eclipse the 60-pitch mark, calling this short rest may be the wrong terminology.
It is just a different schedule of rest.
Another Shot For The Southpaw
Sam Hentges has been in and out of the rotation throughout the season since his promotion.
He has been most effective as a reliever, but the Indians still want to see what he can do in a starting role given his size and power on the mound.
Sam Hentges last 2 outings as a reliever:
3IP 2H 0ER 0BB 6K
Small sample size but very encouraging. He has a chance to be dynamic outta the pen with his stuff.
— CLEology (@_CLEology) June 17, 2021
The lefty’s workload has been minimal as of late and his appearance Thursday was the first time he pitched since the previous Saturday.
Hentges had three strikeouts in one inning of work Thursday, meaning he should be good for four or five innings Sunday.
The key with him, as always, is limiting mistakes so he can actually reach the fourth or fifth inning.
This plan remains a tentative one because it requires Mejia having a solid start Friday night, as to not burn through the bullpen right away.
The same is true for Quantrill on Saturday.
All fans can do is have faith in these young pitchers, because Plesac and Bieber are not magically returning tomorrow.
Oh, the offense also needs to continue to show up against bad teams.
One or two bad performances against the Pirates will not be acceptable.
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