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Projecting the Cleveland Indians pitching rotation and bullpen ahead of Spring Training

With Spring Training on the horizon, we take a look at the Cleveland Indians' projected rotation and bullpen for the 2021 season.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from Feb. 5, 2021.

Next week, the Cleveland Indians will depart for Goodyear, Arizona, where they will hold their annual Spring Training ahead of the 2021 MLB season.

RELATED: More Cleveland Indians coverage from WKYC

With that in mind, let's take a shot at projecting the Indians' starting pitching rotation and bullpen for the 2021 campaign:

Starting rotation

  1. Shane Bieber
  2. Zach Plesac
  3. Aaron Civale
  4. Triston McKenzie
  5. Cal Quantrill

Analysis: After winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2020, Shane Bieber returns to once again anchor an Indians rotation that should be one one of the best in baseball. While neither Zach Plesac nor Aaron Civale possess the experience that Carlos Carrasco -- who was traded to the New York Mets alongside Francisco Lindor in January -- does, both young pitchers have shown plenty of promise since making their MLB debuts in 2019.

Similarly, Triston McKenzie, who is still considered one of the top prospects in Cleveland's organization, impressed in 2020. In what marked the first eight starts of his MLB career, the right-hander tallied a 2-1 record, 3.24 ERA and 42 strikeouts.

The No. 5 spot in the Indians' rotation will likely come down to a choice between Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen. A former first-round pick, Quantrill seems to have the higher upside after making eight appearances -- including two starts -- for Cleveland last season after being acquired at the MLB trade deadline as a part of the package the Indians received from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Mike Clevinger.


  • Closer: James Karinchak
  • Setup: Nick Wittgren
  • Setup: Emmanuel Clase
  • Logan Allen
  • Cam Hill
  • Kyle Nelson
  • Trevor Stephan

With Brad Hand heading to Washington, Cleveland is in the market for a new closer. Fortunately for the Indians, hard-throwing James Karinchak has already shown potential in the role that he occupied at times during the 2020 season.

Nick Wittgren is overqualified as a setup man and could also handle closing duties if Karinchak falters. Perhaps the most intriguing member of Cleveland's bullpen is Emmanuel Clase, a hard-throwing right-hander who missed the entire 2020 season after being suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

Should he miss out on a spot in the rotation, Allen could find a home in the bullpen with Kyle Nelson adding another left-handed arm. Trevor Stephan, who Cleveland selected from the New York Yankees in December's Rule 5 draft, possesses all the necessary tools to be the Indians' long reliever.