No manager in baseball should be more tempted to ride his starting pitchers harder than Eric Wedge, because no team in baseball has a bigger dropoff in performance from the starters to the bullpen than the Cleveland Indians.
At present the Cleveland starting pitchers have the second best ERA in the American League, behind only the ridiculous Toronto starting five, but their bullpen ERA is the second worst in the league, ahead of only the execrable Texas Rangers relief corps. In addition, Cleveland relievers have the second least saves in the league with only 10, and have the league’s worst bullpen in terms of won-lost record, at 5-11.
Outside of Rafael Perez and Japanese import Masa Kobayashi, Cleveland relievers have been universally terrible. Last year’s unstoppable bullpen ace Rafael Betancourt has totally tanked, to the tune of a 5.40 ERA, attempts to get passable work out of veteran retreads Jorge Julio and Scott Elarton failed miserably, and perhaps worst of all, Cleveland continues to rely on Gagne-esque closer Joe Borowski (9.00 ERA) to try to close out games.
Of course the bullpen is not Cleveland’s only problem. The offense has also sputtered as nearly every hitter on the team has started out slow. But while it is inconceivable that every single Indians hitter will continue to be as bad as they have been, it is not inconceivable that this bullpen will continue to suck and suck mightily.
If I were Mark Shapiro, I’d be on the phone now to try to bring in a reliever or two.