For Cleveland it has never come easy finding a legit 9th inning lock down closer. Sure the Tribe have had all star seasons out of closers before such as Jose Mesa 46 saves out of 48 chances with a 1.13 ERA back in 1995, or Bob Wickman shut the door 45 times out of 50 opportunities back in 2005, Even Joe Borowski hit the 45 mark in 2007, but I wouldn’t say he was much of a dominant closer as he posted a 5.07 ERA. Then we met the wonderful Chris Perez, granted he was a two time all star with the Indians back in 2011 and 2012 and never blew more than 5 games a season for his five year stint with Cleveland, but Perez knew how to make us nervous. When fans seen him getting up and start tossing in the bullpen we couldn’t help but to prey to the baseball gods to let this next half inning go as smoothly as possible and sure enough more than not it wouldn’t as Perez always found away to keep us on the edge of our seats as the possible tying and go ahead run would always seem to be on base. I truly believe the Cleveland organization has been plagued in the closers role.
This year could be an example of that even though we all knew John Axford was going to be a project, a high risk high reward kind of guy to see if he could regain his 2011 form when he led the N.L. in saves with Milwaukee. He posted a 2-2 record, 1.95 ERA and saved 46 games only blowing an astonishing 2 on the season. Axford started off the season on a high note, at one point he was leading the A.L. in saves early in the season, but then two back to back games were he cost the Tribe a victory in each it and of course he was removed from the closers role.
Francona has now went with a closer by committee even though he claims he doesn’t like that term used for this situation. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen have been the two main front runners as Shaw has 31.1 innings pitched 27 strikeouts and has given up only 7 runs and closed out 2 games but has also blown the same amount on the season so far and Allen with a 2.70 ERA on the season with 26.2 innings pitched, 33 K’s, and 6 Saves are all amazing stats but Cody Allen has recently done something no closing pitcher has done for the Tribe since Mesa back in 95, Allen has now saved 5 games in his last 5 outings with out allowing a hit! Mesa holds the record at 6 in a row so there is a possibility that Allen can tie the record and even surpass it.
The argument is this, I know Francona likes to call to Allen in stressful situations if its the 7th or 8th inning and he likes having Allen’s electric stuff whenever needed. Although Allen to me has proved that he is the closer the Indians so desperately need! You can always find another situational man to fill in for the 7th or 8th inning like Shaw or maybe even Axford but to put Allen in those positions only takes him out of the 9th inning were things could get hot, That’s why you need a fireman like Allen out there to douse the flames and slam the door behind him.
-Cameron T. Lopez (follow me on twitter @CST_Clopez)