The Cleveland Indians got off to the best possible start Monday night when Cesar Hernandez hit a leadoff home run.
That excitement ended once Sam Hentges took the mound.
The rookie southpaw struggled to find the strike zone and was pulled after 1.2 innings and six earned runs.
He walked three Angels batters and gave up a highlight-reel home run to Shohei Ohtani.
The meatballs were far too plentiful and the bullpen had to come in far too early.
Hentges did do better in his previous start when he went 4.2 innings against the Chicago Cubs with zero earned runs.
Rookie southpaw, Sam Hentges, had some of the good stuff working yesterday.
Drink it up.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/cNtUD46CS3
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 13, 2021
However, he did walk four batters in that game.
It seems like he is either out of the zone or right in the middle of it.
The main problem here is the lack of a true fifth man in the rotation.
The Initial Plan
Logan Allen started the year at the end of the rotation.
In fact, he was just ahead of Triston McKenzie at the start of the year due to there being so many off-days.
Like with Hentges, the initial results were fine.
He pitched in the home opener and logged a respectable five innings as the offense went cold.
The wheels did not truly fall off until his fourth start of the season when he allowed three home runs in 2.1 innings of work.
He then allowed three more in his next start and was ultimately demoted following the game.
Allen is still only 23 years old and was seen as a top pitching prospect the moment he arrived in the Trevor Bauer trade.
So the team is going to remain patient with him.
However, he is nowhere near being a sure thing as the fifth man.
The Current Plan
Hentges initially started in the bullpen and was elevated to being a starter.
His performance Monday night may push him back to the ‘pen.
You simply cannot stop Shohei Ohtani.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 18, 2021
Everyone in this equation is so young and the Indians opted for this approach in 2021 instead of retaining someone like Adam Plutko on a one-year deal.
Next up could be Cal Quantrill, who has opened 2021 in the bullpen.
Other options also remain in Triple-A, but Quantrill was competing for a starter spot this spring.
So what if he gets a shot and fails?
The Indians need to decide something fast if they want to be a contender in 2021.
The team looks like the only real contender to the Chicago White Sox in the division and there is no reason to have a project on the mound in the fifth starter role.
Would they go as far as to swing a trade in July?
The internal hope has to be that either Allen, Hentges, or Quantrill can be the answer.
Let’s hope that does become true.
Otherwise, every fifth game is going to be a tough watch.
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