CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians are set to begin a three-game weekend series with the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field, the Tribe’s final regular season home series of the campaign.
Here is what manager Terry Francona had to say to the media prior to Friday’s game:
How has the addition of Andrew Miller made other relievers better?
“Obviously he’s going to face the better left-handers. And it’s not that Cody [Allen] and [Bryan] Shaw can’t get them out, but it’s taken that off their plate. So not only are you getting a good pitcher, but you’re also getting a guy you can leverage against certain hitters that makes Cody, Shaw, [Dan] Otero, whoever, makes their workload a little bit more manageable.”
Does having Miller enable you to use other relievers, like Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw, less?
“I wouldn’t go that far. I think they’ve pitched a lot. As we were talking about yesterday, I think Bryan’s kind of closed in on—I think he’s the only one the last four years, I think he’s coming up on 300 games. I get your point. I think it’s more that we’re able to go to the bullpen earlier. And we have them facing maybe hitters we think, you can look at a lineup and think, ‘OK, we can go here, here and here.’ And guys still have to pitch. But it certainly makes it look like you can navigate your way through there. So I don’t think they’ve pitched less, I think we’ve gone to our bullpen earlier. … A good example, I mean one we’ve had some bullpen games, but even the other night with [Corey] Kluber, he was at 102. He didn’t look like he was tired to me. But with Miller out there loose, you’re asking a guy to throw his 103rd pitch to a dangerous left-handed hitter when you’ve got Miller standing there. It just doesn’t make sense not to go get him.”
Can you still use guys more than two nights in a row at this point in the season?
“Some of our guys, Shaw has done it many times. Cody, too. And it’s not just the three nights in a row. You gotta keep track of the ups and the downs and things like that too. Sometimes guys will, if they’re up and down a couple times or three in a bullpen the night before, that might wear them out more than pitching in a game. And Andrew, before he came here, they had always kept him to two. He can go multiple innings, but he also went two with a day off. We’ve kind of tried to adhere to that. But with Cody and Shaw, they’re pretty remarkable in their ability to bounce back. Because there’s a couple things, too, it’s not just your willingness, but you have to be able to still get people out. They maintain their stuff. I think in some cases with Cody, that’s the nights you see his best breaking ball, after he’s had the repetition.”
How deep can Cody Anderson pitch in Saturday’s game?
We don’t want to stretch him out. I talked to him today, we want him to treat it like a bullpen. And the reason being, like we did with [Mike Clevinger] a couple week before he stared starting, go out, play your catch at 4 o’clock, go out to the bullpen, don’t do all the long [toss], just like you’re going to come in to relieve. Because we don’t want him to get stretched out. We want him to impact the game in certainly multiple innings, but talking 2-3 innings range. We’d like to see him try to dominate a couple innings as opposed to trying to get him stretched out for five or six. So that’s kind of how we’re treating it. I Just wanted to make sure he understood so there wasn’t any mix-ups going into it.
What have you seen from Anderson in his most recent outings?
“I would say the last three or four outings, four or five, have been really good – more like the Cody that we kind of saw, especially in Spring Training. When he came up last year, he pitched really good. Then he came to Spring Training and he had a little extra gear on his fastball. And then for whatever reason, he just didn’t seem like he had it for a while as a starter early. Now through a lot of hard work and some ups and downs, he looks like he can be a weapon, which is what we want to maintain.”
How mindful do you have to be about Corey Kluber and other pitchers’ workload as the playoffs approach?
“From past experience and then just watching a lot, to get where you want to go, it’s normally somebody has to do something fairly significant. Look at [Madison] Bumgarner, things like that. That probably took it to another level. But saying that, I think with Kluber, his tank isn’t going [on empty]. Some of our guys have never even pitched into September, let alone, October. But, nobody looks to me like they’re on fumes. That’s probably more of what we watch as anything. And then, I know the teams I’ve been with, when you play into October, you keep track of how much [guys pitch], because they’re high leverage innings, too. High intensity. And then in the off-season, you try to at least pay attention to that, whether it be Spring Training or whatever. Right now, they just go until they’re done.”
Do you have a limit on how early you would bring in Andrew Miller?
“Not in a playoff game. I don’t think there needs to be any fixed [spot]. There’s some things to think about, kind of common sense. I tell these guys all the time, it’s hard to have common sense in the middle of a game, because your emotions are pulling at you. But if you’re getting ready to lose a game, it would be hard not to have him pitching to certain hitters. Saying that, you bring him in too early and the situation comes up two innings later, you don’t have him. There’s a lot to think about. I don’t want to lose, but if I had to, I’d rather pitch our guys and then if it didn’t reach, it didn’t reach.”
Was Thursday’s start an indication of some of Mike Clevinger’s growth as MLB pitcher?
“I hope so. That’s the idea as he grows. Every game, every inning he pitches, learning more and more and more. I think when [Alcides] Escobar hit the home run, I think for a couple hitters he was trying to stay away from contact. And then [Roberto] Perez did a good job of getting after him to get back in the zone. He used his changeup against right-handers a little bit more, which he need to. I thought he threw strike one better. I think he still needs to understand that when you throw strike one, strike two is OK too – like not letting guys get back into the count. But he’s learning, and I don’t know how he’s going to be used. But if guys can get outs, we’ll find a place to pitch them.”