The Cleveland Indians began life without Shane Bieber, at least in the short-term, Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
Jean Carlos Mejia got the start and allowed two earned runs in his four innings of work.
Four relievers combined for five innings of one-run baseball to help secure a much-needed win over the lowly Orioles.
It turns out this approach may be the formula moving forward, at least until Bieber and Zach Plesac can return.
Terry Francona indicated the Indians might keep J.C. Mejía and Cal Quantrill only semi- stretched out and have them pitch on short rest. They're considering Mejía for another start on Friday. pic.twitter.com/TasEx9QEE0
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) June 15, 2021
The other way this plan changes is if some of the young starters take that next step and look lights out on the mound.
Why This Can Work
The Indians have a packed bullpen and that is working to their advantage during this bizarre situation with the starting rotation.
Monday night provided a glimpse at the ideal plan.
Mejia pitched four innings and Nick Sandlin immediately provided 1.2 innings of shutout work.
He did so on just 22 pitches, which is obviously ideal.
Next up was the trio of Bryan Shaw, James Karinchak, and Emmanuel Clase.
All three are not available everyday, but the Indians are also not in these tight, one-run situations on a daily basis either.
It is inevitable that some games will be lost early on, regardless of who takes the mound.
But having a great bullpen means the star pitchers of the group can be saved for winnable situations.
All they need is the starter to log a few innings of work in which the damage is limited.
Mejia did that, got some support from the offense, and the bullpen did the rest.
More Of An “Opener”
Mejia and Cal Quantrill may fall into more of an “opener” role as opposed to a true starter.
Both will be on pitch counts and only expected to go three or four innings, barring a truly efficient start.
However, it would be a shock for either to see any batter three times in a game.
Indians starting rotation this week:
Jean Carlos Mejia
"The Beer Guy"
The 69th fan to go through the gates
A hologram of Bob Feller
— Adam Burke (@SkatingTripods) June 14, 2021
This is an example of the Indians making the best of the current situation.
None of the young guys have stepped up and claimed a spot, so creativity must be used.
The hope was that Triston McKenzie and Logan Allen could hold down their respective spots all year.
McKenzie has shown promise, but couldn’t even make it out of the first inning over the weekend.
As for Allen, he just needs to get back to basics.
Eli Morgan and Sam Hentges are two other players looking to prove they can be full-time options.
Neither is close to that yet, but they should get more opportunities.
All the team can do is see how this goes.
Mejia and Quantrill also need to be honest and let the team know if they are sore or tired or anything of the sort.
Because the last thing this team needs now is another injury.
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