The 2018 season is over for the Cleveland Indians. After falling to the Houston Astros in the ALDS, we’re going to start a three-part series that looks back at the year and takes a peek forward at what the offseason holds for this franchise. This week we will look at the Indians bullpen and what their options are this off-season. In the next two weeks will look at both the infield and the outfield.

There is no question that the Cleveland Indians have one of the biggest off-seasons in recent history ahead. The Tribe have six key free agents this off-season: Michael Brantley, Josh Donaldson, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Oliver Perez are all set to hit the free agent market. Let’s look at what the Tribe needs to do in the bullpen this winter.

The Bullpen

The bullpen was easily the worst part of the Indians team this past season. There was no consistency and despite the acquisition of Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, the bullpen was nothing short of awful in the ALDS. Cody Allen failed to help the Indians in the playoffs and especially struggled in the second half of the season. Andrew Miller, on the other hand, couldn’t stay healthy and when he was healthy, he didn’t perform. The question is how much will it take to re-sign Allen.

I think the Indians need a serious roster shakeup this winter and it starts with Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Allen and Miller may have hurt themselves for free agency this winter with their underwhelming seasons, but it is likely that some team could overpay for the services of one of them. The Indians should not overpay for Andrew Miller but should try and retain Cody Allen. Ideally, the Tribe would re-sign both, but that is unrealistic financially for the Indians who must re-sign Michael Brantley at all costs. Early in free agency the Indians should try and lock up Oliver Perez for another year as he was one of the few bright spots in the Bullpen this season. From there they can look around during free agency at a pretty loaded class of free agents. The Indians don’t need Cody Allen if they can get somebody else of high caliber, but it will come at a price.

Who’s on the Market?

There are a number of intriguing names that will be free agents this off-season.
one of the guys the Indians have to inquire about-although it is unlikely they will get him- is Collin McHugh. A few other pitchers the Indians could look at are the Yankees Dellin Betances and David Robertson, the Rockies Adam Ottavino, and the Red Sox Craig Kimbrel.

Player Stats

McHugh was 6-2 this past season with a 1.99 ERA and a WHIP of 0.91. Betances finished the season with a 2.70 ERA over 66.2 innings of work and struck out 15.5 batters per nine. Adam Ottavino is somebody you may not have heard of, but he had a nice season in the pen in Colorado. Despite pitchers in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball in Colorado, Ottavino was able to post a 2.43 ERA over 77.2 innings. He struck out 12.98 batters per nine and held a 2.0 WAR.

Kimbrel is one of the best relievers in the game but is not immune to bad outings. When Kimbrel is off he is usually really bad, however, Kimbrel had a great season for the Red Sox. He had a 2.74 ERA in 62.1 innings in Boston this past season and completed 42 saves out of 47 opportunities.  The last free agent the Indians should look at is David Robertson. Robertson held a 3.23 ERA over 69.2 innings and posted an 8-3 record. His WHIP is 1.03 and he struck out 91.

The Indians have a tough off-season ahead just with their bullpen. The outfield has a number of question marks as well. Next week we will look at what the Indians options are in the outfield for the upcoming winter.

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