Allen adapts to closer's role

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen is finding a home at the back end of the Tribe's bullpen.

Early in the season, Indians manager Terry Francona demoted John Axford from the closer's role, and with that came an opportunity for Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen. It was Allen, though, who has emerged from the "closer by committee" test as the most likely candidate to finish off opponents.

Allen has converted 13 of 14 save opportunities and carries a 2.06 earned run average through 43.2 innings of work in 48 appearances. Also, he has struck out 58 hitters against 16 walks and 31 hits allowed.

"I think certainly, there will be times when he is," Francona said of Allen closing. "Depending on how we get there some nights, and rest, and who's available, he can be used for sure, and he knows that.

"He and Shaw complement each other so well that sometimes, we may flip-flop it, depending on how many days they've pitched in a row, things like that, but you'll see Cody get the majority of that.

"They both have done such a great job, that I think they could be interchangeable. Just trying to monitor their workload, I think is important."

The closer's role is often reserved for former starting pitchers who have not been able to hold their spots in the rotation and would be better suited in a bullpen role. However, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Allen is only 25 years old, and has always been a reliever.

At the Major League level for parts of three seasons, Allen has converted 15 of 19 save opportunities and posted a 9-4 overall record with a 2.58 earned run average over 143.0 innings of work in 152 appearances.

During his career with the Indians, Allen has registered 173 strikeouts, and allowed only 57 non-intentional walks. Opposing hitters are batting just .231 against him.

"As hard as the ninth inning can be, he can certainly handle it," Francona said. "He's either going to get them out or not. It's not going to be because the situation's too big.

"I don't know if they come much more savvy. He's a kid that flew through the system. It's weird. Sometimes, the last three outs are hard because there's no net. You're kind of out there alone, but saying that, Cody had proved last year that every time there were runners on base, he came in, and he seemed to not only handle it, but he loved it."


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