The Cleveland Indians are dealing with a bit of a pitching crisis.
Zach Plesac remains out with a freak thumb injury, leaving Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale as the only healthy starting pitchers from the Opening Day roster.
Young pitchers are getting starts seemingly every game and a few in particular blew some early chances to stick around.
Two in particular stand out as those who could benefit from a strong month of June.
2. Logan Allen
We start with a pitcher not currently on the MLB roster.
Logan Allen settled in nicely yesterday.
Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in for his highlight reel.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/y6yOJn2RJ0
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 12, 2021
Logan Allen was demoted back in April after it became clear he was having trouble limiting home runs.
He immediately went down to Columbus and did even worse with a 14.66 ERA in his first three starts.
That was quite the mighty fall for a pitcher who broke camp with the major league club.
Allen is still young and it’s not like his demotion was the end of his professional career.
But things only got worse in May and June will be a critical month in his 2021 outlook.
If he can’t limit runs in Triple-A, there is no shot of him doing so with the Indians.
Sometimes minor league stats are like spring training stats in that they are skewed because pitchers are specifically working on one thing or another.
Fans are now wondering just how many things Allen needs to work on to make his return.
1. Triston McKenzie
Triston McKenzie is in an odd spot right now.
When Triston McKenzie joined the team in Detroit, Terry Francona joked with him: "Triston, you did an unbelievable job making adjustments that quickly."
But really, McKenzie gave them five scoreless innings tonight. More strikes. Got ahead in the count. Much better pitch mix.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 27, 2021
He was demoted just over a week ago, only to return out of necessity with the Plesac injury.
The right-hander proceeded to log five scoreless innings of work and look like a proper member of the rotation.
He is also still with the team as they play another doubleheader Monday.
It remains to be seen if McKenzie is automatically headed back down regardless of Monday’s outcome.
What we do know is he needs a strong month of June in order to allow the front office to stop trying out so many rotation options.
McKenzie can just claim the fourth spot for good, once Plesac returns, and allow the focus to only be on the final spot in the starting five.
His biggest focus is limiting free passes.
He allowed five walks in the start that led to his demotion and even allowed three upon his return.
No MLB manager wants his starter to put free runners on base and if he can fix that in June, we are looking at a long-term piece blossoming before our eyes.
If not, players like Jean Carlos Mejia, Eli Morgan, and Cal Quantrill are all ready to step up and get a shot of their own.
Monday will be a telling sign in McKenzie’s outlook.
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