An All-Star third baseman on a sustained rise. An outfielder-reliever who returns to a Major League-field for the first time in more than five years.
As the regular season draws to a close, Cleveland continues to evaluate the progression and development of several young players who are in uncertain territory and heading into a low season that will be full of tough decisions for the front office. In that way, it almost acts as an extension of spring training, as the team gathers as much information and context as possible before winter arrives.
‘Too stupid to stop’:Ex-outfielder Anthony Gose blasts 100mph in pitching debut for Cleveland
Here’s a look at some recent trends around Cleveland’s roster.
Jose Ramirez named AL Player of the Week
There are zero questions surrounding Jose Ramirez, at least in terms of his performance. Ramirez was named Player of the Week in the American League, the fourth time in his career he has earned that honor.
In a six-game period, Ramirezhit .500 (10-for-20) with two homeruns, two doubles, seven RBI’s, 10 runs scored and four walks. After a week in which Cleveland was hit once and had two near misses, Ramirez rebounded from his spot in the lineup.
As was the case at the trade deadline, Ramirez’s name will continue to pop up with rumors in the league. Cleveland has club options with Ramirez for the 2022 and 2023 seasons before he can hit free agency again.
An extension is possible, especially given that Cleveland’s payroll has completely bottomed out in recent years. But because of the way Cleveland has functioned lately and Baseball Operations President Chris Antonetti always has to at least answer the phone when it rings and a team becomes desperate, Ramirez’s name could be in rumors all winter long.
Anthony Gose makes MLB debut as a pitcher at age 31
As Anthony Gose put it, he was just “too stupid to quit.”
Gose, more than five years after last walked off the field as a major league midfielder, made his MLB debut as a pitcher in the second game of Monday night’s doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals, the culmination of a long, tortuous journey through three minor league systems.
At age 31, in his pitching debut, Gose allowed one run in 1 inning, throwing 39 pitches, 21 of them at a speed of at least 99 mph. He reached a top speed of 100.8 mph.
Gose is in a somewhat difficult position as he’s run out of options and still has a lot to prove, but he’s finally getting his chance to land a part in a Major League bullpen.
Eli Morgan defeats Gerrit Cole
Eli Morgan’s recent piece is one that Top Thrill Dragster would be impressed with.
On September 4, he limited the loaded Boston Red Sox lineup to three hits in 5 innings with seven strikeouts, one of his strongest starts of the season, albeit with four walks. Six days later, he was ripped to pieces by the Milwaukee Brewers for seven earned runs (and two home runs) in 4 innings.
But Morgan certainly recovered from that disaster, beating Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole and holding the New York Yankees to one run on six hits in six innings.
That piece alone increased his ERA from 5.48 to 6.03, then dropped to 5.68. Morgan has had a wildly inconsistent season and numbers to act as rotational depth in Triple-A to open the 2022 season, assuming the top five of Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Triston Mckenzie and Cal Quantrill all remain healthy. But he now has a win over Cole on his resume.
Oscar Mercado gets into a rut
Outfielder Oscar Mercado has had a few short spells in the few months where he showed the kind of offensive ability that was evident in 2019, but those stretches were followed by slumps each time.
Mercado ended August well, but that preceded a 0-for-11 slump to open September. It’s been a similar story lately, as Mercado hit three consecutive games (although going 3-for-10), but went 0-for-8 in the past two days since then. A groundout on Monday ended when Mercado slammed his helmet on the ground, a clear sign of frustration for a young fielder who was still seeking the kind of success he found as a rookie in 2019.
And with Cleveland heading for a Rule 5 Draft roster crunch like many teams in the league and Mercado with no options, he’s also in a precarious place to move forward.
Nick Wittgren’s 2021 Going Backwards
The end of the 2021 season is not nice for Nick Wittgren.
Wittgren was pushed into a stretch where he regularly played games in difficult spots, as he had to hold on to the free runner in extra innings after Cleveland failed to score in extra innings in the top of the inning. Therefore, the fact that Wittgren has eight defeats on his record doesn’t really matter, pitchers’ gains and losses don’t matter at all in the beginning, but especially in this case.
What does matter is that Wittgren has been rocked again and again lately. He now has an 8.18 ERA in his last 11 appearances (10 runs earned, 16 hits in 11 innings), and things only seem to get worse as September went on. Wittgren will again be eligible for arbitration and could be a candidate for Cleveland to clear a 40-man roster spot given his recent struggles.
Logan Allen is working to get back what he found
Logan Allen had an outing on August 27 when he returned from Triple-A to hold the Red Sox to one hit in six innings with five strikeouts, his best start in the majors and the first positive step he’d taken in months after a grueling, frustrating summer.
He followed that up with a good start against the Royals, throwing 6 innings with two earned runs and three strikeouts. But since then, Allen has struggled to maintain that form and was tested twice by the Minnesota Twins, first for five runs in 5 innings and then for four earned runs in 3 innings.
Allen recently commented on how he was working on a new curveball grip, the result of a conversation with Bieber, along with a new change. Heading into 2022, Allen will run out of options, meaning he could potentially transition into a bullpen role. At least he hasn’t yet shown the kind of consistency that led to a spot in the Opening Day rotation. But since then, Allen’s outings have been fleeting as he continues to develop his own. Because of this, the club has been patient, hoping to unlock the kind of potential that once made it a top 100 contender in baseball.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about the Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
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