Much has been made of the Indians’ bullpen struggles this year from elite, to terrible, to oh my God we can be really good again. The early part of the season the Indians were dominant and the deficiencies we were facing had not come to light yet. For the better part of May and June the bullpen was mostly terrible and could not hold a lead to save its life. The bullpen now looks ready to dominate come October as it is has looked strong since the acquisition of Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from the Padres. Yes, we gave up our top prospect to get them, but he was blocked on his path to the majors and that is all we gave up. Adam, a young rookie is a great pick-up as a guy with a submarine/side-arm delivery and a funky pigeon toe. Brad Hand, the Padres’ closer the last 2 1/2 years, was excellent in that role and has been nothing but excellent since coming over. However, this is not an article analyzing the trade and these two players potential impact. This is the case for Brad Hand to take over for Cody Allen as the closer right now!
Now is the time to make adjustments to your team before the postseason arrives and adjust guys to different roles. One thing Cody Allen has never been shy of is care for just winning and doing what is best for the team win going forward. When we first acquired Andrew Miller in 2016, where he was closing for the Yankees, Allen stated that he would be willing to step into a multi-inning role and let Miller close. Most pundits assumed that would be the case as well once the trade was consummated. We all know what happened after that. Cody Allen stuck as the closer and Miller rode his multi-inning use all the way to an ALCS MVP award and was integral with an injury-shortened rotation.
Here we are again two years later we have acquired an elite lefty reliever with a wicked slider and closing experience. While it may not have been necessary two years ago the stats deem it necessary now. Cody Allen’s advanced 2018 stats are as follows: K/9- 10.07, BB/9- 3.83, HR/9- 1.61, LOB%- 77.4%, GB%- 29.2%, HR/FB- 13.3%, BABIP- .262, FIP- 4.80, ERA- 4.43, WHIP- 1.23, and a WAR- -0.3. Far worse than he’s been the last few years before that aka not Cody Allen we are used to. Brad Hand’s 2018 advanced stats including the games he has pitched in a Tribe uniform: K/9- 12.62, BB/9- 2.81, HR/9- 1.05, LOB%- 73.6%, GB%- 46.9%, HR/FB- 16.2%, BABIP- .284, FIP- 3.22, WHIP- 1.03, ERA- 2.81. Now some of (but very few) Allen is better than Hand in some of those cases. If you require more evidence go look up Cody Allen’s standard stats and see how much worse they are then in years past. I’m talking HR, Hit Batters (HBP), BB, Runs, etc.
Those are just there stats this year I also took the liberty of calculating their stats the last 2 1/2 years before they were teammates and was astounded by the results. Cody Allen from 2016-July 2018: K/9- 11.49, BB/9- 3.36, HR/9- 1.25, LOB%- 80.2%, HR/FB- 13.22%, FIP- 3.58; add in his WAR from the same timeframe until now 1.0, 1.5 and -0.3. Good stats in some cases and could not measure everything I wanted as I could not locate the stats to calculate such. Now let’s look at Brad Hand’s 2 1/2 years with the Padres: K/9- 11.87, BB/9- 3.01, HR/9- .93, LOB%- 79.43%, HR/FB- 13.02, BABIP- .272, WHIP- 1.04, ERA- 2.67, FIP- 3.02 and his WAR over that time frame 1.5, 1.7 and 0.8. Same as before Allen is better in some but Hand comes out on top in most of the categories. To me, those numbers are n0t only astounding but also eye-popping! Hand has played for a team that has been far worse the last 2 1/2 years while Allen has played for a World Series contender in the same timeframe.
On top of the statistics throw in the fact that Cody Allen is a free agent after this season with no guarantee we can retain him. It may cost too much retain him and although he has the playoff experience why not go with the guy that has been the stronger pitcher. Hand was acquired because he not only improved our bullpen right now, he came with control that protected us against the potential loss the following season and extends our championship window.
If I’m Terry Francona, I’m taking that under consideration and putting Allen in a set-up/multi-inning role, or even playing the matchups in save situations. Alas, I am not the manager and can not make this call, but my personal opinion would be to make this switch now rather than later. Stay with us at CST as we follow the Indians’ chase for a World Series title this year and in the future.