CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The effects of one bad start rarely end when that pitcher walks off the mound. And the fallout can often cost guys Major League jobs.
This time, it was Danny Salazar’s one-inning outing on Thursday which led to some movement in the Indians’ bullpen on Friday afternoon.
Cleveland recalled right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong prior to Friday’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field, optioning lefty Kyle Crockett back to Triple-A Columbus to make room on the 25-man roster.
With Josh Tomlin expected to be activated from the Family Medical Emergency List for his start on Saturday, the move provides some short-term insurance.
“There was going to be a move anyway,” manager Terry Francona said. “So, just to try to protect our bullpen a little bit… we just thought, get Armstrong here for tonight.”
Francona indicated that Toronto’s right-handed dominant lineup also played a role in the decision.
Armstrong rejoins the Tribe after spending most of his season with the Clippers. He has allowed one run in three Major League innings with Cleveland this season.
Crockett, meanwhile, becomes a roster casualty of Salazar’s short start. The lefty had pitched well in his most recent stint with the Indians, posting a 2.53 ERA in 13 appearances.
“I get it,” Francona said. “He’s going to be down for 10 days. If there’s an injury, it’ll be less. And he knows that. This is not a, ‘Hey kid you gotta do this better.’
“We’ve kind of talked to that group of Crockett and [Austin] Adams and those guys and tried to explain it as much as we can that, when you have a team that’s trying to win, there’s a segment of guys that have options that it can be revolving. And they’ve handled it really well.”
Overall, Crockett owns a 5.65 ERA in 14 1/3 innings with Cleveland in 2016.
To Your Point
Considering Salazar’s struggles in his first game back from the disabled list, is it fair to question the Indians’ decision to not send the righty on a Minor League rehab assignment before his activation?
“Yeah, yeah it is,” Francona said. “Mickey [Callaway] and I were talking about that yesterday. It’s fair to ask. And maybe we should have. I don’t think Danny wanted to and that didn’t sway it, but I think we thought with the two weeks down and his bullpen was really good. But it’s a fair point.”
Salazar threw 34 pitches in just one inning, walking three and yielding three runs on one hit before the team opted to go to the bullpen to begin the second inning.
After being removed from Thursday’s walk-off win, the starter went back out to the bullpen to continue throwing for three more simulated innings.
“At least he has a certain number of pitches under his belt,” Francona said. “I know the last 30 weren’t under game [conditions], or the last 40, but it was still up and down and he got to have some repetition.”
The All-Star hurler missed two weeks due to inflammation in his right elbow, but the team felt some side bullpen sessions and a simulated game would be sufficient enough to prepare Salazar for his return.
Cleveland owed a great deal of their victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday to the four innings of relief provided by Mike Clevinger.
Clevinger, a starter by trade, is now available out of the bullpen for the Indians, and the rookie right-hander held the Sox to just one run on three hits, eventually handing the ball to the pen in a much more comfortable seventh-inning spot.
Francona says the team is still working through which situations work best for Clevinger out of the pen.
“I think that’s evolving,” Francona said. “The one thing that’s really hard when you bring in a guy that early that has your length, if he struggles, you have to make a decision like, ‘OK is the game out of range and let him eat up some innings or do you go get him out of an inning knowing you’re going to go through everyday?’
“Fortunately, he came out and really pitched well, kept our bullpen in order and gave us a chance to win.”
Clevinger has allowed just two runs on five hits over his last two appearances, a stretch of 9 2/3 big league innings.
Francona really isn’t into putting more emphasis on one game over another, but he certainly understands why some may be circling the matchup between two first-place teams this weekend at Progressive Field.
“I don’t care who we’re playing,” he said. “It’s always a big game. Shoot, that’s why we play. But, you know, there are teams that we play that are doing better than others. I get it. They’re a fun team to play because they’re so good. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to win, but it’s fun to play teams that are this good.”