CLEVELAND — So much focus has been on the Indians’ offense coming into the 2021 season, analyzing — once again — whether the bats will be able to provide enough run support to back the club’s elite starting rotation. But as essential as it is to push runs across the plate, the team’s relief corps may end up being the most vital part of the roster.
The Indians’ 5-2 victory over the Tigers on Sunday at Progressive Field played out as perfectly as Cleveland could have drawn it up. Although starter Logan Allen threw more than 30 pitches in the first inning, he was still able to grind through five innings on the rubber, setting up the Indians’ preferred quartet of Bryan Shaw-Nick Wittgren-James Karinchak-Emmanuel Clase in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
And while the addition of Karinchak helped improve this group in ‘20, having Clase thrown into the mix this season has the potential to take this bullpen to a more dominant level, which he proved once again in the series finale against the Tigers.
Clase has brought a different type of excitement to the late innings of Indians games. The 23-year-old right-hander said he can sense the crowd getting more and more excited as the radar gun perpetually flashes triple-digit numbers on the screen. On Sunday, the crowd couldn’t contain its roar as he threw seven pitches over 100.0 mph to help secure his second save of the season.