Breaking down the bullpen

After a few lovely days back in Ohio with the MLBastian Family, I’m back in Arizona. Apparently I brought a little Midwest back with me, though. Today was ugly and rainy and the Indians’ game against the Royals was canceled as a result.

Ah, but poor weather does not stop the rumor mill now does it?

Early Monday morning, a report surfaced that the Indians had placed right-handed reliever Jensen Lewis on waivers. Now, some of you out there have contacted me asking why Cleveland “waived” Lewis, which makes it sound like he was cut or released. That is something entirely different.

Now, I am not sitting here claiming to be an expert on all the nuances of the MLB waiver system. I’m still learning about the whole process, but after six years in baseball I’ve got a pretty good feel for the general way things work. News of Lewis being exposed to waivers is news in the sense that there was news that Lewis was exposed to waivers.

Confused?

What I mean is a lot of players are placed on waivers in the latter stages of Spring Training. Similarly, lots of players are run through waivers after the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline. It is a way to gauge interest in players, putting them temporarily up for grabs to other teams, but it does not always mean the players will be moved.

In Lewis’ case, I can’t confirm whether he was or was not placed on waivers. What I can tell you is that it would make sense if he was. He is having a rough spring and he is out of options. If a team puts in a claim, maybe a deal can be worked out. If there is no claim, then Lewis can be sent outright to the Minor Leagues.

For now, Lewis is very much a member of the Indians. Will he be in the Opening Day bullpen? Well, if he was indeed run through waivers, that could be an indication that it’s more likely he’s got a bus ticket to Triple-A Columbus in his future.

Let’s look at how the bullpen shapes up right now…

LOCKS: Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Chad Durbin, Tony Sipp

OPEN SPOTS: Three

OTHER CANDIDATES: Jensen Lewis, Joe Smith, Justin Germano, Frank Herrmann, Vinnie Pestano, Doug Mathis, Jess Todd

Smith is still fighting a strained upper abdominal muscle and appears doubtful for Opening Day. Lewis is out of options, but that issue might be in the process of being solved via the waiver situation. Lewis is still in the mix for an Opening Day spot, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that he’s more likely headed to Triple-A.

That would leave Germano, Herrmann, Pestano, Mathis and Todd for three spots (also assuming Smith won’t be ready). Germano and Mathis are in camp on Minor League deals, meaning someone would have to be removed from the 40-man roster for them to be added to the roster. Obviously, if Lewis is outrighted to the Minors (he can’t refuse such an assignment) that would vacate a roster spot.

Pestano seems to be a logical fit for the bullpen, especially if Smith isn’t ready to go. Indians manager Manny Acta raved about Germano on Monday and reiterated how important it is for the Indians to have a reliever or two capable of logging multiple innings. Germano, Herrmann and Mathis fit that mold.

Now is your time to play GM. With the current choices and situation, who would make your Opening Day bullpen for the Tribe?

For the rest of today’s news, check Indians.com.

–JB

9 Comments

I always hate stuff like this, if only because you know that at least one of the guys you pick is going to get the boot when Smith comes back, so you’re not so much setting the bullpen as putting a placeholder in.
Pestano has obviously earned his spot, like you said, JB (have we started calling you that? We always called Castrovince “AC”). If the choice was Hermann or Todd, Hermann might get a leg up because he’s had more big league experience, but with Smith hurt, they could take both of them, and I think they should — I don’t think taking any older guys makes much sense if we’re still rebuilding. Hermann has already been to the majors and Todd needs all the experience he can get, so take them both.

From here it looks like they hung on to Lewis specifically to see how he showed in the spring. Since his velocity is down, and he’s had command problems, and he’s not injured, it seems to be possibly a mechanical issue. That can be a hard one (or sometimes an easy one) to fix. On the other hand, right handed relief pitchers are the easiest thing to find. I kind of hope if they get a caller for Joe Smith, and that they move him. He’s going to get expensive soon, and with his injury issues and his limitations against left handed batters, I see him as an unnecessary bullpen piece on a rebuilding team. I think I’d go with Germano, Herrman, and Todd. I picked Todd because he’s had a very nice showing this spring, and I’m curious to see if he could carry that into the season. They really need to find out if he’s going to be a viable option down the road for them anyway.

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This is why I still highly dislike the Durbin acquisition. Even though Smith’s injured, Lewis’s been horrible, Bryson’s injured and Stowell’s seemingly injured except they’re not saying, they STILL have plenty of internal options. I’d like to see Pestano, Herrmann and Todd. Probably only 2 of those guys and Germano get the call though. Lewis’s had these velocity issues before in the spring, and it carried over into the regular season and he got lit up. If he’s not averaging 89 he shouldn’t be in the conversation.

Acta has one of “iron trap” memories, and that’s OK. Even though it’s “only” spring training….Lewis came in with a 5 run lead, with 2 0n / 2 0ut, and walked off the mound losing by 1. Well, like I said… Manny won’t forget that. May as well pull Lewis outta the oven, he’s done as an Indian. OFF the “40” roster, and used sparingly in C-bus. Because Manny doesn’t forget. (almost to a fault) If they bring Lewis back up, they’ll have to keep him there, and I don’t see that happening. JMO

OK…… I guess I’ll have to retract my diatribe ! According to FOX SPORTS, JL was NOT put on waivers, as reported by JB.
How’d I miss that ?

FOX SPORTS reported yesterday @ 4:45 that Lewis was NOT put on waivers, after being told so by JB.
My question is… If JB had the time to tell FOX SPORTS the rumor was unfounded, Why wouldn’t he take the time to retract his articles here ? Something looks pretty silly here.

I am forever indebted to you for this ifnomtraion.

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