Guardians righty Nick Sandlin has been diagnosed with a strain in his upper back/shoulder and will miss the remainder of the postseason, tweets Zack Meisel of The Athletic. Cleveland will need to swap him out for the next round of postseason play. Starter Aaron Civale, who took the ball in the final regular-season game and was thus left off the Wild Card roster, will likely be added, though depending on other moves the team wishes to make, right-hander Cody Morris could be a candidate to join the fray as well. The team will have until tomorrow morning to make a formal decision on who’ll take Sandlin’s roster spot.
The loss of Sandlin is a notable one for Cleveland, even if the 25-year-old — like much of the Guardians’ roster — is far from a household name. The 2018 second-rounder made his big league debut in 2021, when he tossed 33 2/3 innings of 2.94 ERA ball, and has had similar success in 2022.
While this year’s 22.8% strikeout rate and 13.3% walk rate were steps back from 2021 levels (34% and 12.1%, respectively), Sandlin also saw his ground-ball rate spike from 41.7% to a whopping 55.9%. He tossed 44 innings of 2.25 ERA ball out of the Cleveland ’pen, including a sparkling 1.11 ERA and 26-to-6 K/BB ratio over his final 24 1/3 frames.
The Guardians haven’t formally announced the injury, a treatment plan or a potential timeline, but they’ll likely provide more details in the days to come. For now, what’s immediately clear is that their powerhouse bullpen will take at least a slight hit in their American League Division Series date with the Yankees. The bullpen — and the pitching staff in general — will still remain an unquestioned strength, however. Even with Sandlin sidelined, Cleveland can turn to righties Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, Trevor Stephan and lefty Sam Hentges in leverage spots — all four of whom had ERAs of 2.69 or better and strikeout rates of 28.4% or higher.