CLEVELAND — It wasn’t until last week in Chicago that the Indians penciled Triston McKenzie as the team’s fifth starter due to the three off-days the club had in the first two weeks of the season. But after another off-day on Monday, Cleveland may be leaning toward changing the order of its rotation once again.
Indians manager Terry Francona prioritizes giving his relievers equal amounts of workloads as possible. Because the team had so many days off early in the season, and its starters were throwing at least six innings each time out, the bullpen was hardly touched. But over the last week, Cleveland had two short starts from Zach Plesac and Logan Allen, which quickly caused the bullpen to be overused.
Now, Francona has a plan to hopefully get his relief corps more consistent innings. Assuming weather doesn’t disrupt the Indians’ schedule this week, the team is planning to slot Shane Bieber — who’s been eating up a lot of innings — in the rotation on Friday between Allen (Thursday) and McKenzie (Saturday).
“I think the guys are getting more consistent work and we will certainly look to keep that that way,” Francona said. “When you have early exits, sometimes that can get a little challenging. Depending on weather, and that can be huge this homestand, we’re looking to get Bieber in between Logan and Triston. And we think that’ll help a little bit.”
Allen hasn’t thrown more than five innings this season, and the Indians are still keeping an eye on McKenzie’s workload. With Monday’s off-day allowing Cleveland to have the option of putting Bieber in between the two, this could help give the bullpen a less-taxing day in between Allen and McKenzie.
But this plan is all subject to change. With snow and cold temperatures forecasted over the next few days, Francona was asked about how the weather could affect the upcoming schedule.
“Sounds like unless things change, which they can here, we should be able to get the game in tonight,” Francona said on Tuesday. “It’s just going to be challenging. It’s going to be cold and windy, and as we progress, looks like some precipitation, whether it’s snow or rain, nobody quite knows yet. And I don’t think tomorrow looks real good. So that’s why we probably need to try to play tonight.”
Benches-clearing incident behind them
In the series finale in Chicago on Thursday, the benches cleared in the first inning over a play that involved the White Sox Adam Eaton and Indians shortstop Andrés Giménez at second base. On an attempt to advance to second on a single to right, Eaton got tangled up with Giménez as he put the tag down, and Eaton momentarily came off the bag and was ruled out. Eaton eventually shoved Giménez before second baseman Cesar Hernandez stepped in. The benches cleared and tensions grew, but the Indians aren’t expecting that to carry over into the two-game series in Cleveland.
“I hope we come out with an edge every day,” Francona said. “But that seems like it was a year. That’s kind of how we operate. You play and you move on to the next and then you move on to whatever. That has no impact on our series.”