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Indians notebook: Extra bullpen members give Terry Francona better results, more flexibility

CLEVELAND: More arms in the Indians’ bullpen have translated into better production among the team’s relievers.

When major-league rosters expanded Sept. 1, the Indians received an influx of additional relief pitchers who have allowed Indians manager Terry Francona more freedom in picking and choosing relief assignments.

“During the course of the regular season when you have a seven-man bullpen, you can’t go to the bullpen early that often or you’re going to put your team in a tough position,” Francona said. “Now, that’s not the case.”

Over the Indians’ last nine games, the bullpen owns a 0.32 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and has averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings over its last 28⅓ innings of work.

If it were up to Francona, he’d have double-digit bullpen members all season because the added arms give him more flexibility, especially during blowout games.

“There’s been a couple of games that have been spread out — sometimes in the wrong direction — but we haven’t had to go to [certain key] guys. We’ve kind of used it twofold. One, we’ve got guys like Josh Tomlin, where innings are important to him. [Rookie] C.C. Lee’s got some much-needed experience. [Rehabber] Blake [Wood] got an inning or two coming back from his surgery that will help get him going net year.

“Obviously, you try to win every game. But when you can’t win a game, you at least try to accomplish something that day regardless of seemingly small it may seem that day.”

LOOKING GOOD — Indians first-round pick Clint Frazier was named the top player in the recently concluded Arizona Summer League, according to Baseball America. Frazier, 18, batted .297 with 32 runs scored and 28 RBI over the first 44 games of his professional career after signing with the Tribe out of Georgia’s Loganville High School. Another young Tribe prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, also made Baseball America’s list as the league’s seventh-best prospect. Mejia, 17, signed with the Indians as a non­drafted free agent last year out of the Dominican Republic. The switch hitter with a good throwing arm batted .305 in his first taste of U.S. baseball.

— Stephanie Storm


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