CHICAGO -- Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has called upon closer Cody Allen in six save situations throughout the 2016 postseason, and each time, the hard-throwing right-hander has answered the bell for his team.
Over 10 innings of work in eight appearances in the postseason, Allen has spread out seven hits with no earned runs allowed and 18 strikeouts against just three walks.
“When I first met him, he was beyond his years as far as a competitor and being able to handle stuff,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was one of the things that jumped out that first Spring Training as you get to know guys. That was really pleasing.”
Initially, when Allen came up to the Major League level, he struggled with an undefined role later in games.
However, since being moved to the back of the bullpen, Allen has converted 92 of a possible 106 saves with 21 holds over 317 appearances. In 306.1 innings of work, Allen has allowed just 236 hits and 89 earned runs, good enough for a 2.61 ERA.
“What we asked him to do in the set-up, however you want to call it, that was so demanding that I actually thought being in the closer’s role could be a little bit easier because you know what inning you’re pitching,” Francona said.
“A lot of times, you start an inning out with nobody on, but there’s also been times when he’s had a couple hiccups where we’ve brought him in, in the middle of innings just to get him back to being aggressive because that’s when he’s at his best.”
Allen sealed the Indians’ 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field, but he more than earned his sixth save of the postseason.
Over 1.1 innings of work, Allen had to go through the heart of Chicago’s order, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras, and get second baseman Javier Baez to strike out swinging with the tying and winning runs in scoring position to lock down the victory.
“Watching him pitch, I could just envision him being that swing guy, fireman, however you want to put it,” Francona said. “A guy that comes in and you can leverage and get big outs, whether it’s a left-handed hitter, right-handed hitter because as you get to know him, he loved being in those situations where it was bases loaded.
“He’d come in and get a strikeout, and then, go back out, and he was so good at it, moving him into the closer’s role, that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was replacing what he did in those two outs in the sixth, two outs in the seventh, getting that last out. That’s a hard guy to replace.”