The Indians were known to be looking at outfield help in the lead-up to the trade deadline, and The Athletic’s Zack Meisel reports that Cleveland checked in on a pair of major NL Central names — the Tribe spoke to the Pirates about Bryan Reynolds, and with the Reds about Jesse Winker. It isn’t known if any serious talks took place about potential deals, or if the Indians were just doing their due diligence and were quickly rebuffed.
- Shane Bieber threw a 36-pitch, up-and-down bullpen session on Friday, Indians pitching coach Carl Willis told The Akron Beacon Journal’s Ryan Lewis and other reporters. Bieber tossed another bullpen earlier this week and is in line for one more on Tuesday, and a simulated game could be the next step in Bieber’s rehab. The ace has been on the injured list since June 14 due to a shoulder strain, and while there is still a ways to go in Bieber’s recovery, he seems to be on pace to return to the mound before the season is through.
Karinchak was a popular breakout candidate this season because of his gaudy strikeout numbers, and for awhile, Karinchak made good on that promise. But it’s been a different story in the second half. After recording an absurd 42.5 percent strikeout rate in the first half, that number has fallen to 12.5 percent in the second half. His FIP has tumbled from 3.12 to 7.64.
Karinchak’s spin rates have plummeted all season long on both his fastball and his curve. His In Zone Swing & Miss Percentages have fallen as well, from 26% on his four-seamer in June to just 9% on that same pitch in August.
As for Bradley, the powerful first baseman slashed .213/.316/.480 over 174 plate appearances, his first real crack at regular playing time in the bigs. He’s been out since August 7 with a knee sprain.
Cleveland’s chances at a postseason run are more or less nonexistent at this point, but it’s still a troubling development for one of the organization’s most promising young arms. The 24-year-old McKenzie was rocked during his first run with the big league club in 2021, but upon returning from the minors in early July, he looked like a different pitcher entirely.
Over his past eight starts, the former No. 42 overall draft pick has tallied 49 innings with a 3.49 ERA, a 25.8 percent strikeout rate and a 4.3 percent walk rate. His four most recent outings have been particularly dominant, as he’s held opponents to just six runs on a dozen hits and two walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings (1.93 ERA). Overall, McKenzie has pitched in 27 big league games dating back to 2020 and put together a 4.40 ERA through his first 124 2/3 innings. He’s clearly trending upward right now, so any mention of shoulder problems is worrisome.
The team hasn’t provided a timeline for McKenzie’s absence, but given the lack of 2021 postseason aspirations, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Indians take a cautious approach to the situation. McKenzie, at this point, looks like a favorite to be penciled into next year’s rotation alongside Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac and Cal Quantrill.
For now, he’ll be replaced by the 24-year-old Allen, who is hoping to finish what has been a nightmarish season both in the Majors and in Triple-A on a high note. Allen has allowed 23 earned runs in 22 2/3 Major League innings so far in 2021, and he’s been tagged for 43 runs in 48 2/3 frames of Triple-A ball. He’s long been considered a fairly promising arm, however, and his past several games in Columbus have been trending in the right direction. Through his past five starts (28 2/3 innings), he’s worked to a 4.08 ERA with 35 punchouts against 13 walks.
- Both Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale are set to throw on Tuesday as the two Indians starters continue to work their way back from injury. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (Twitter link) was among those to report that Bieber tossed a bullpen session yesterday and will throw another bullpen on Tuesday. Civale’s outing Tuesday will be a two-inning simulated game, and if all goes well, Civale could begin a rehab assignment.
Trevor Bauer was the subject of an ex parte temporary civil stalking protection order sought by and granted to an Ohio woman in June of 2020, according to a report by Gus Garcia-Roberts and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post. The order was in effect until dismissed by the petitioner that July 23. According to the Post’s report:
“An Ohio woman sought the order in June 2020 after repeated threats from the then-Cincinnati Reds pitcher, according to her lawyer and records separately obtained by The Post. Photographs independently obtained by The Post also show bruises on the woman’s face and blood in her eyes, which her attorney said was caused by Bauer punching and choking her during sex without consent. Those allegations are similar to ones made by a woman in Los Angeles this summer when she applied for a temporary restraining order.”
The Post report details an alleged incident from 2017, when Bauer was with the Indians. The authors elaborate:
“A police report obtained by The Post shows that in 2017, during an incident at Bauer’s apartment, the Ohio woman attempted to show officers photos of injuries to her eyes that she said were caused by Bauer, who played for Cleveland at the time.” The woman’s attorney tells the Post she specified to police at the time that those injuries were the alleged result of Bauer choking her without consent during sex. According to the Post, Bauer was the one who initially called police that night, telling officers the woman had assaulted him — an allegation she denied. Additionally:
“The Post also obtained copies of messages Bauer allegedly sent the woman, which her lawyers said prompted her to seek an order of protection. ’I don’t feel like spending time in jail for killing someone,’ reads one. ’And that’s what would happen if I saw you again.'” The Post also obtained photos of injuries the woman sustained, which her lawyer tells The Post she says “were from Bauer striking her without her consent during sex in 2018,” in the words of the Post writers.
The ex parte nature of the order indicates it was granted without hearing from Bauer’s side. (That’s also true of the temporary restraining order granted against Bauer in California to which the Post alluded). Ohio law allows petitioners to obtain a restraining order against individuals who have caused the petitioner to believe they “will cause physical harm to the other person or a family or household member of the other person or cause mental distress to the other person or a family or household member of the other person,” so long as the petitioner can demonstrate good cause — including, but not limited to, a threat of bodily harm. Court records don’t specify any allegations made against Bauer at that hearing.
MLB placed Bauer on paid administrative leave in July 2021 after the Pasadena Police Department began investigating the assault allegations made by the woman in California. Bauer’s administrative leave period was extended through August 20 this week, an agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association. The parties are set for a multi-day hearing (during which Bauer will have an opportunity to respond to the woman’s allegations) next week on the status of the California TRO.
Under the terms of the joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, Major League Baseball has the authority to issue discipline regardless of whether criminal charges are ultimately filed. An MLB spokesperson is quoted in the piece as saying that “MLB takes these and all allegations very seriously,” but that they can’t comment because of the ongoing investigation. The Post reports that an MLB investigator was seeking information related to the 2017 incident in early July.
Chelsea Janes, also of The Washington Post, says that the Dodgers declined to comment on whether or not they were aware of this previous allegation before signing Bauer in February of 2021. A spokesman for the Indians told the Post the team didn’t have any knowledge of the incident in 2017.
Bauer, on his own Twitter account, addressed the allegations with a statement from himself as well as one from his representatives. Additionally, “In a statement to The Post, Bauer’s lawyer and agent, Jon Fetterolf, and agent Rachel Luba called the allegations of physical abuse against Bauer ’categorically false.'”
TODAY: Bieber is tentatively slated to throw a bullpen session tomorrow or Saturday, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told MLB.com’s Mandy Bell and other reporters.
AUGUST 8: Indians ace Shane Bieber was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a shoulder strain back on June 14, then moved to the 60-day IL two weeks ago. That sets August 15 as the earliest Bieber can make his return to Cleveland’s rotation, yet it doesn’t look at the moment like the right-hander will be ready until well beyond that date.
Bieber was recently shut down from throwing altogether, though that shutdown only lasted a few days, as the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was making tosses from 90 feet on Friday.
“I’m not super enthused about the fact that it’s taken a little bit longer than expected, but it is what it is and we gotta think safety and long-term,” Bieber told The Akron Beacon Journal’s Ryan Lewis and other reporters. “So it came down to getting a little bit of rest and I’m sure you can tell that I’m excited and want to come back as soon as possible….I don’t know too much on a timeline or whatever, but I’m just trying to progress as smoothly and quickly as possible and get back as soon as possible. Whether it’s a couple innings this season, who knows?”
Given that we’re now into the second week of August, Lewis notes that it might not be either possible or feasible for Bieber to pitch again this season. Between pitching off a mound, bullpen sessions, and rehab outings, Bieber isn’t likely to be ready until the start of September at the earliest.
Cleveland currently has a 53-55 record and is well behind in both the AL Central and wild card races, so unless the Tribe considerably closes either gap in the near future, the Indians could opt to shut Bieber down and look ahead to the 2022 season. On the other hand, if Bieber is indeed healthy and ready to pitch by (for instance) mid-September, there also might not be any harm in him getting “a couple innings” under his belt just so he can fully put his shoulder injury behind him, rather than wait until Spring Training in February.
The Tribe were racked by pitching injuries this season, with Bieber’s shoulder issue robbing him of a chance to fully follow up on his outstanding 2020 campaign. The right-hander wasn’t quite at his all-world Cy Young form in 2021, but he still delivered a 3.28 ERA and a 33.9% strikeout rate that ranked among the league’s best. With Bieber only entering arbitration eligibility for the first time this winter, he is still a major building block for a Cleveland team that will look to return to contention as they begin the Guardians era next year.
Indians infield prospect Tyler Freeman underwent surgery on his left shoulder yesterday, the team announced. The Athletic’s Emily Waldon (Twitter link) reported back on July 29 that Freeman’s season would be ended due to the injury, though he is expected to be recovered in time for the start of Spring Training. Freeman’s shoulder has been bothering him since late June, and he played in only five games sandwiched in between a pair of stints on the injured list.
On the plus side, Freeman has likely done enough at Double-A this year to earn himself a spot on the Triple-A roster to begin the 2022 season. A second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Freeman has hit .323/.372/.470 over 180 plate appearances in his first exposure to Double-A pitching this season, recording two home runs and 14 doubles. Assuming he returns healthy from his shoulder surgery and plays well at Triple-A, Freeman is on pace to make his Major League debut next season.
Baseball America’s midseason prospect rankings place Freeman as Cleveland’s top minor leaguer, and as the 40th best prospect in all of baseball. Freeman has continued to display excellent bat speed and contact skills, and while he has continued to mostly work as a shortstop, he has also seen action as a second baseman and played his first seven pro games as a third baseman. The Tribe currently have Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez up the middle, though between Rosario’s ability to play in the outfield and Gimenez’s struggles at the plate, there is room for Freeman to emerge as a regular at either middle infield position (with some scouts believing he’ll eventually be a second baseman).
The Indians announced this afternoon they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Francisco Pérez. First baseman Bobby Bradley is landing on the 10-day injured list after missing the club’s past few games with a left knee injury. Cleveland already had two vacancies on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was needed in that regard.
Pérez is in line to make his big league debut after spending seven years in the minors. He signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic during the 2014-15 international signing period and has spent his entire career in the Indians organization. Pérez began his career as a starting pitcher but has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this season.
While Pérez has never appeared on an organizational top prospects list at Baseball America or FanGraphs, he’s been nothing short of dominant in the high minors this year. The 24-year-old has worked 45 1/3 innings of 1.19 ERA ball split between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Along the way, Pérez has punched out a whopping 40% of batters faced, although he has walked an elevated 11.7% of opponents. That’s a new development for Pérez, who had posted average or better walk rates at every level until this season.
The Mets have signed right-hander Zack Godley to a minor league contract, according to Michael Mayer of the Metsmerized website (Twitter link). Godley had been pitching in the Indians organization on a minor league deal but was released by the team earlier this week after he enacted an opt-out clause in the contract.
The signing represents something of a full circle moment for Godley, who was initially a 50th-round draft pick for the Mets in 2009 but he decided against signing and instead attended the University of Tennessee (and was a 10th-round pick for the Cubs in 2013). Best known for his time as a workhorse in the Diamondbacks rotation in 2017-18, Godley ran into some injury problems and has since become a journeyman, beginning with a move to Toronto after the Blue Jays claimed him off the D’Backs roster in August 2019.
Since then, Godley has pitched for the Tigers, Red Sox, Brewers, and Indians organizations, tossing 28 2/3 MLB innings with Boston in 2020 and then only 3 1/3 innings for Milwaukee this year — over those 32 frames, Godley has a 9.00 ERA and a whopping 11 homers allowed. At the Triple-A level this season, Godley has a more respectable 4.00 ERA over 54 combined innings with the Brewers’ and Indians’ top affiliates, but he has still surrendered nine home runs.
Godley is likely little more than a depth option for the Mets, though another call to the big leagues might not be out of the question considering how New York is still dealing with some major injury absences to its regular starting rotation. The return of Carlos Carrasco and the acquisition of Rich Hill have stabilized things to some extent, but the Mets are still awaiting Noah Syndergaard’s return from Tommy John rehab and ace Jacob deGrom’s return date is still up in the air.