Predicting the September call-ups
September arrives on Sunday, the day that Major League Baseball rosters can expand from the standard 25 player limit to up to 40 players for the final month of the season.
The Indians can certainly use some reinforcements, and they will add from Triple-A Columbus and possibly even Double-A Akron. They have a plethora of bullpen options to bring up for the stretch run, though unfortunately they have few options to fill their greatest need - offense.
There will likely be two waves of callups. The first coming on Sunday for some immediate relief - likely all pitchers - and then a second wave after the minor league season ends for Columbus and Akron on Labor Day.
Here are the players up for consideration, and my predictions on whether they are added or not:
Josh Tomlin (RHP): He will make one more rehab appearance on Monday for Columbus and go five innings or 75 pitches, then be called up next week as long relief or a spot start. He’s looked good in his rehab from elbow surgery last August - in nine appearances, he owns a 1.61 ERA (22.1 IP, 13 H, 0 BB, 16 K).
Preston Guilmet (RHP): Guilmet has been on a roll with nine straight scoreless outings, covering 12.0 innings and allowing just three hits. He has had an excellent season in the minors and already been up in Cleveland a few times, so he should be part of the first wave of relievers to help add some length to the pen.
Vinnie Pestano (RHP): The Indians ran out of patience with Pestano a few weeks ago and sent him to Columbus. While he has pitched better recently, he is still trying to find his fastball and better command. From a team standpoint, he will probably be recalled but have his opportunities limited the rest of the season to low leverage situations.
Matt Langwell (RHP): Langwell just goes out there and competes, has a lot of toughness, and gets results. He has already been up a few times this season and has had another good year in the minors, so he should come up on Sunday as part of that first wave of arms. His performance this September could show whether he stays on the roster this offseason or not.
Jose Ramirez (INF) or Juan Diaz (INF): The Indians want to add another utility infielder to the roster in September, and it probably comes down to Diaz and Ramirez. Diaz is on the 40-man roster and Ramirez is not, but Ramirez offers great speed, more versatility, good defense, and a much better offensive approach. Ramirez could very well be the guy and would give the Indians an opportunity to get an extended look at him as a utility option for next season. Diaz’s days with the organization are numbered.
David Cooper (1B): The Indians picked up Cooper two weeks ago and reports say that if he is not added to the 40-man roster by the end of August, he can elect to become a free agent. His performance has been mixed in his short time at Columbus, but the Indians are desperate for offense. If he checks out health-wise, they will take the gamble and have him in Cleveland by Sunday.
C.C. Lee (RHP): Lee had a brief callup to Cleveland earlier in the year and has had a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery. He is more of a 50-50 option to call up, but with all of the depth they have in the pen the Indians may just opt to shut him down.
T.J. House (LHP): House has had a solid season (9-11, 4.00 ERA) and has pitched well in August (3-0, 2.30 ERA). He is a guy that the Indians could call up as a long relief option or an additional lefty in the pen; however, the addition of Tomlin and others might keep him from consideration. Either way, he’s a legit major league option next year.
Kyle Crockett (LHP): Crockett has rocketed up the system and the Indians are seriously considering adding him to the roster for the stretch run. In 20 appearances he owns a 0.38 ERA and has a 4-30 walk to strikeout ratio in 23.2 innings. He’s a 50-50 possibility as well, but he just has such exceptional command and is tough on lefties, which is something that the Indians could use right now.
Bryan Price (RHP): Price is having a sensational season, but is on the outside looking in for a September callup because of a numbers game. With many relievers ahead of him on the totem pole and limited space on the 40-man roster, his time for a major league opportunity will probably have to wait until next season.
Blake Wood (RHP): Wood has pitched well in the minors in his return from elbow surgery - he has a 2.49 ERA and 11.4 K/9 in 28 relief appearances this season, but the walk rate (6.0 BB/9) is concerning and probably will be something that ultimately keeps him from being a September callup.
Nick Hagadone (LHP): Hagadone has been forgotten after his earlier struggles in Cleveland, but has put together a solid season in Columbus. His command issues continue to plague him, and the high walk rate is probably what prevents him from being called up.
Austin Adams (RHP): Adams has returned from shoulder surgery and he has a big arm, but there are just too many right-handed relievers in front of him.
Clay Rapada (LHP): He has pitched well, but with the Indians desperate for left-handed pitching, not giving him a chance until now is a clear indication they do not consider him a major league option - the Yankees let him go for a reason.
Trevor Bauer (RHP): At the moment the Indians do not have a need for a starter, and if they do, Tomlin or Carlos Carrasco would probably fill that role. It is unlikely that Bauer is recalled.
Matt Packer (LHP): He has rebounded from injury and had a nice season. But again, there are other options above him at this point. He’s definitely added himself to the major league mix next season.
Jesus Aguilar (1B): Aguilar’s 100+ RBI season at Akron is unheard of in the minors; however, the high RBI total has taken the focus away from all of his other numbers which have gone down this season. The Indians are desperate for offense so they could call him up, but it appears to be a long shot.
Tim Fedroff (OF): Fedroff’s value has always been his ability to hit, but this season he’s seen a nosedive with his performance at the plate. He is just not fast enough or good enough defensively to be a late game replacement as a specialist, so without the bat he can’t be called up.
Jeremy Hermida (OF): If the Indians want to add a guy from the left side with some power, good approach and major league experience, it might be Hermida. But he is not on the 40-man roster and it doesn’t appear they would sacrifice losing another player in order to add him.
Matt LaPorta (1B/OF): As much as fans may want to give one last look at him, it appears that when Columbus’ season ends on Monday that the Indians will not call him up and he will quietly leave the organization this offseason as a minor league free agent.