The DFA represents part-two of a fairly sudden downturn in Cody Allen’s career. Allen owned a 2.67 career ERA through 386 appearances from 2012-2017, notching 122 saves over that span in Cleveland. As the lockdown closer for the pennant-winning Indians, Allen’s consistency at the backend allowed manager Terry Francona to deploy Andrew Miller as a multi-inning, anytime-anywhere fireman and usher in a new era of bullpen dependence.
Last season was a decidedly less successful campaign for Allen as he struggled to a 4.70 ERA in 70 games in his final season in Cleveland. It was the first time he posted an ERA over 3.00 since his rookie season in 2012. He took six losses and blew five saves, but the decreased K-rate (27.7 K%) and increased walk rate (11.4 BB%) pointed to an even more substantial decline.
After inking $8.5MM in guaranteed money from the Angels, Allen walked 17.2% of the batters he faced, a mark in the bottom 1% league wide. He has also given up considerable hard contact (54.5%) as opponents have barreled him up at a 15% clip while getting the ball up in the air more frequently (65.2 FB%). Opponents’ average exit velocity of 94.3 mph ranks Allen ahead of only Reed Garrett (94.7 mph) and Alex Cobb (94.9 mph). Hard hit fly balls have unsurprisingly led to a 20.9 HR/FB%, 3.52 HR/9 and 6.26 ERA.
Allen has incentives in his contract that would have given him his first a many raises at 35 games finished, but with only four saves and 13 games finished, the Angels weren’t at risk of hitting those benchmarks anytime soon. Still, given the picture painted above, it’s hard to argue with the Angels’ decision to cut their losses.
The 30-year-old isn’t likely to be claimed, at which point he has the right to refuse a demotion and become a free agent. He’ll look to catch on somewhere, however, as he has no plans to retire, per Maria Torres of the LA Times (via Twitter). Given his fastball-reliant two-pitch arsenal, Allen will need to develop a new approach to remain viable at the big-league level. His four-seamer has slowed to an average 92.2 mph (from 93.5 mph last year and a career peak 96 mph in 2013), and though he’s become slightly-more invested in his curveball this season, usage rates were not considerably different than his career norms.
As for Cole, the 29-year-old righty owns a career 3.99 ERA across 27 career games, 26 of which have come with the Halos this year and last. He’s been hit hard in the minors this season, however, with a 5.51 ERA and 12.7 hits surrendered per nine innings.