The Cleveland Indians were just one win away from their first World Series championship since 1948 last fall, and they wasted no time in the offseason bringing back and acquiring more talent in an effort to rebuild the roster for another deep postseason run.
In addition to bringing back the key members of the bullpen and utility outfielders, the Indians added a middle-of-the-order hitter in Edwin Encarnacion, a signing that served a dual purpose of bolstering the lineup while taking away a player from the very team they defeated in the American League Championship Series, the Toronto Blue Jays.
“To take the team we had with the talent level to push it to the 10th inning of Game 7 and try and take that team and make it even better and make more of a financial commitment into winning right now, that says a lot to the players and we want to reward them for that,” closer Cody Allen said.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization. To get a bat like Edwin Encarnacion, a guy like Boone Logan who can complement our team extremely well, even guys like Austin Jackson and some of the other pickups we had throughout the offseason that may not have had the headlines of Edwin Encarnacion, I think those guys will really help us out.”
In 2016, Allen allowed just 19 earned runs and eight home runs over 68.0 innings of work, and registered 87 strikeouts against 27 walks in leading the Indians to their first American League Central Division title since 2007.
In the 2016 postseason, Allen allowed just one unearned run over 14.0 innings of work in 10 appearances. He struck out 24 batters and scattered nine hits against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, Blue Jays in the ALCS and Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
“It was a lot of fun,” Allen said. “There were definitely some memories made, some things that I look back on quite often, more so the feels and the memories, everything you have with your teammates, but it was a great experience, a lot to learn from going forward.”
A 6-foot-1, 210-pound right hander, Allen was a 23rd round pick of the Indians in 2011, and made his debut just over one year later.
Used in a variety of roles during the early portion of his career, Allen has settled into the closer’s role over the last three years, totaling 90 regular-season saves, and another six during the team’s postseason run last October.
Over 306.1 career innings pitched in 317 regular-season appearances, Allen has a 17-16 record with a 2.61 earned run average.
With Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller joining Allen and Dan Otero once again at the back end of the bullpen, the closer believes the quartet of relievers can have a similar impact on the 2017 season, especially if the starting rotation is able to stay heathy.
“We understand there’s a certain way of how things will work probably 75, 80 percent of the time, but if they change it up a little bit, it’s for the good of our team,” Allen said. “It’s not just to see something different or give a guy rest or protect a guy more than another. It’s just to try and win a baseball game. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all here to do.”
(© 2017 WKYC)