Preview: Twins at Indians
CLEVELAND — Manager Terry Francona is like a kid in a candy store with his new and improved Cleveland bullpen, which is back at full strength and ready if called upon Tuesday night when the Indians and Minnesota Twins meet in the second game of a four-game series.
The return of left-hander Andrew Miller from a long stay on the disabled list and a trade with San Diego that brought left-hander Brad Hand and right-hander Adam Cimber to Cleveland has helped the remodeling of a bullpen that needed an overhaul.
As a result, Francona has a bullpen with enviable flexibility. Miller, Hand and Cody Allen are all capable of closing games, and the bullpen also includes three left-handers: Miller, Hand and Oliver Perez.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had three lefties in my bullpen. I love it,” Francona said. “That will help us a bunch the rest of the way.”
Miller has made two appearances since coming off the disabled list. He has pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one strikeout, one walk and one hit batter. He has thrown 22 pitches in the two appearances.
“The more he pitches the better he’ll be, so we’re going to try to pitch him as much as we can without it being too much,” Francona said.
Francona may also have his starting catcher back for Tuesday’s game. All-Star Yan Gomes, who has missed the last three games with hamstring tendinitis, “may start” Tuesday’s game, according to Francona.
The Twins tweaked their roster on Monday, placing outfielder Robbie Grossman on the 10-Day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. To replace him on the roster, outfielder Johnny Field was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. Field was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay, where in 63 games he hit .213 with six homers and 14 RBIs.
Cleveland belted four home runs and won 10-0 on Monday night in the first game of the series. The Indians have won three in a row and the Twins have lost four in a row.
Tuesday’s pitching matchup will be Twins right-hander Adalberto Mejia (1-0, 2.60 ERA) vs. Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (13-5, 3.66). It’s the same matchup from Aug. 1 in Minnesota, when Carrasco and the Indians beat the Twins 2-0.
In that game, Mejia, who had no decision, pitched five scoreless innings and gave up one hit, with two strikeouts and three walks. He has also spent time this year at Triple-A Rochester, where in 14 games (11 starts) he was 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA. In four career appearances against the Indians, Mejia is 1-2 with a 1.96 ERA.
Carrasco’s performance in the Aug. 1 game in Minnesota was one of his best starts of the season. He pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed four hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
While Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have gotten most of the attention in the Indians’ loaded rotation, Carrasco, who tied for the American League lead in wins last year with 18, is quietly having another outstanding year.
Carrasco hasn’t lost since June 16. Since then, he is 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA. Since June 6, he’s 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA. Tuesday will be Carrasco’s fifth start of the season against the Twins. In the first four, he was 1-2 with a 4.66 ERA. In 21 career appearances against Minnesota, Carrasco is 6-8 with a 3.98 ERA.