By notching save #140 on July 4 vs the Kansas City Royals, Cody Allen etched himself into the Indians record-books, passing Bob Wickman as the franchise leader in saves.
In typical Cody Allen fashion, this accomplishment did not come easy.
After being handed a 3-2 lead to start the bottom of the 9th, Allen opened the inning by striking out Jorge Bonifacio but then surrendered a double to Alex Gordon.
With a runner suddenly in scoring position, a familiar feeling began to descend over Kauffman Stadium and many watching at home; could Allen be trusted to secure the victory (and series sweep) for the Tribe?
Even with this sudden pressure on him, Allen delivered, striking out Hunter Dozier and Alcides Escobar on three pitches each, utilizing his signature four-seam fastball to overwhelm Dozier and his devastating knuckle-curve to tie up Escobar.
In a post-game interview, Allen received a celebratory shower from teammates but remained humble, praising his teammates and the organization for his success, particularly the Tribe’s love, transparency and loyalty for their home-grown players.
— SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) July 5, 2018
Since debuting in 2013, Allen has faced his fair share of criticism from the Indians faithful, with the organization sticking behind him every step of the way.
There have been critiques on his occasional control issues, inability to put hitters away and his tendency to make even the simplest of save situations into a heart-pounding experience.
However, Allen has been a workhorse for the Indians. His 422 appearances, 262 games finished and 408.1 innings pitched for the team during his seven years with the team is a testament to that.
He also possesses a career 2.73 ERA, a mark that clearly shows that Allen does, in fact, know how to put batters away in close games.
Yes, Allen does leave his saves a little too late sometimes (remember Game 3 of the 2016 World Series?), but it simply comes with the territory of the role and position he occupies in the modern game, a game where relievers are being trusted more and more to get the job done in tight situations.
Simply put, there has not been a reliever quite like him in Tribe history.
Jose Mesa may own the team record for saves in a season with 46 in 1995, but the ugly stain that is Game 7 of the 1997 World Series will always dirty his reputation.
Joe Borowski and Bob Wickman may look comparable to Allen on paper seeing that both of them had a season with 40+ saves, but it’s not as if hitters were shaking in their boots watching these two greying, meandering relievers stroll out to face them.
Chris Perez, much like Allen, had a reputation as a fire-baller, but due to his affinity for dog treats and spectacularly whizzing out of the MLB like one of his fastballs, he is only a mirage to Allen’s overpowering ways.
Yes, all of these players did have years for the Tribe in which their save total substantially beat Allen’s single-season best of 34.
However, none of them did it quite as spectacularly or as long as Allen, which puts him alone in current Indians lore.
As it stands, his future remains very much in doubt, given his contract year status and the bloated market for relief pitchers.
This is an unfortunate part of life on a small-market team, but I bet that if all things were equal, he would relish a chance to return to the team next season.
Make no mistake: Allen is a cornerstone of the Tribe, a pitcher that many teams would (and will be) chomping at the bit to have as a part of their bullpen.
The potential departure of both Allen and Andrew Miller (who is also in a contract year) may coincide with the end of the Indians’ championship window.
After all, success in baseball is fleeting for most teams, but with a player like Allen, the Indians should feel a lot better about ending their championship drought and writing themselves into the history books much like their closer has.