The time has come for the Cleveland Indians to see what they have in their young starting pitchers.
This weekend’s series in Pittsburgh featured Jean Carlos Mejia, Cal Quantrill, and Sam Hentges on the mound over the course of the three days.
So far this year, all three have been limited in how long they were allowed to go into games.
That changed this weekend, with differing results.
Jean Carlos Mejia’s Rough Start
Mejia got off to the worst possible start Friday.
He allowed five runs in the bottom of the first inning and usually, that would mean getting pulled.
But Terry Francona knew he couldn’t burn his bullpen right away and Mejia was given a chance to settle in and continue on.
He was able to calm down and ended up throwing 77 pitches in five innings of work.
Both marks were new highs as Mejia may now be officially let loose to get a normal day of work in every time he takes the mound.
The best thing about the right-hander is that he rarely offers up free passes.
He had no walks Friday, which is great considering the problem other young pitchers have had this year.
Cal Quantrill’s Great Day
Cal Quantrill is up to the challenge that's facing the @Indians' pitching staff right now.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/DHYo3hBmd1
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) June 15, 2021
Quantrill also went five innings and threw 77 pitches Saturday, but he left with a clean sheet.
The right-hander allowed three hits, but no runs.
In a weird twist, it was the bullpen that ended up blowing the lead and costing the Indians the game.
The offense also could have scored more than three runs, but so it goes.
This was also Quantrill’s longest start of the year.
It is refreshing to see him get a shot to go deep into a game and it must also help mentally know he isn’t coming out after 45 or 50 pitches.
He doesn’t have to try to be perfect and given that mindset, he seemed to thrive Saturday.
Sam Hentges’ Much-Needed Day
Hentges has had some truly ugly outings this year.
Sam Hentges entered today allowing 20 H, 12 R and 6 BB in his last 12 inn.
Today: 5 scoreless inn, 2 H, 1 BB and 4 Ks on 57 pitches.
Rotation is still rather volatile, but regardless of opponent, has to be at least encouraging along with Quantrill's 5 scoreless inn last night.
— Ryan Lewis (@ByRyanLewis) June 20, 2021
But Sunday saw him get through five innings and do so after only 57 pitches.
So this was less of a pitch count issue and more about him not facing the lineup for a third time.
Unlike the other two, Hentges has gone well above the 60-pitch mark on several occasions this season.
However, this was easily the premier performance of his year as he did not allow a run to score.
He also had four strikeouts in what was a much-needed dominant outing for the southpaw.
The Indians have been seeking a reliable left-hander for years now and Hentges is hoping to fill the role Logan Allen was hoping to occupy when the season began.
One start does not mean he has earned a full-time job, but it is hard to be anything other than excited following Sunday’s win.
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