COMMENTARY | On Monday, May 27, 2013, the Cleveland Indians placed closer Chris Perez on the 15-day Disabled List with right shoulder soreness. Perez left the Sunday, May 26 game against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning after allowing a pair of runs and loading the bases. He looked "off" throughout the inning. Perez is scheduled to have an MRI in Cleveland on Monday. This is his first career stint on the MLB Disabled List.
This season Perez has gone 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 17 relief appearances. He has allowed 15 hits, nine runs, walked 10, and struck out 18 in 16 2/3 innings pitched. He has six saves and two blown saves on the year. For an All-Star closer, those numbers leave much to be desired.
Perez had been having shoulder tightness for the last couple of weeks but has secretly pitched through the discomfort. The severity of the injury has not yet been determined, however whispers on the situation are saying he will not return until the All-Star break.
So what does that mean for the closing job in Cleveland?
Manager Terry Francona stated that set-up man Vinnie Pestano would get the first chance at save situations, however young Cody Allen may be the better long-term option for the club. This is not just a rash reaction to Pestano giving up four runs in the eighth inning on Saturday in what would eventually become a 7-4 Indians loss. Pestano is a strong pitcher, but moving him to closer could leave a hole in the set-up role, one I do not believe fellow reliever Joe Smith is ready to step into on a regular basis.
Allen throws 95 mph and has a strong slider to fall back on. In 2013 he is posting a 1-0 record paired with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He has struck out 30 and walked just seven in 23 1/3 innings pitched. As a 2011 draft pick for the Tribe, Allen is already proving he can perform at the Major League level.
Furthermore, the Indians are heading into a difficult portion of the schedule facing the likes of the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Texas Rangers in 13 of their next 16 games. Messing with the established order of the late-inning relievers adds even more uncertainty and further shakes up a traditionally strong bullpen.
What would it hurt to give Allen the chance early on? Is it because he has not yet paid his dues or does not hold the same fan popularity as the likes of Perez or Pestano? He is likely the "closer of the future" just as Trevor Bauer is the "future ace." Or does the future need to wait just a little while longer?
How do you feel about Cody Allen and bullpen situation for the Tribe? Let me know in the comments below.
Paul Rados is a Cleveland based freelance writer and avid supporter of the Cleveland Indians. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados
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