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Indians stockpiling pitchers in the midst of a baby boom

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Week in transactions: Mike Clevinger had an interesting travel week.

Cleveland Indians v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

There’s a ton of moving parts here, so let’s take the past week’s moves one at a time, then try to summarize the upcoming decisions the Tribe will be making.

June 16 (Friday)

Placed OF Michael Brantley on the 10-day Disabled List (ankle) retro to June 15

Recalled SP Adam Plutko from Columbus (AAA)

Brantley had been away from the club a couple days to be with his wife and newborn son, and I think the Cleveland Indians saw the opportunity to give his ankle some rest as well as get another arm on the roster for the doubleheader in Minnesota. As things turned out, the Indians didn’t need Plutko, and still haven’t used him, but better to be safe than sorry in these cases. Brantley is on track to return to the active roster Monday the 26th.

June 17 (Saturday) - Before Game 1

Recalled SP Ryan Merritt from Columbus (AAA)

Optioned RP Kyle Crockett to Columbus (AAA)

Merritt was the starting pitcher for Game 1 of the doubleheader.

June 17 (Saturday) - Before Game 2

Optioned SP Ryan Merritt to Columbus (AAA)

Recalled 3B Giovanny Urshela from Columbus (AAA)

Recalled SP Mike Clevinger from Columbus (AAA) - 26th Man

The reason the Indians used Clevinger as the 26th man rather than Merritt is that the 10-day rule does not apply to the 26th man, so the Indians could send him back down to Columbus and recall in 5 days for his next scheduled start. With Brantley away from the club, Urshela was recalled for Game 2 to give the Indians another position player, allowing the Indians to rest Jason Kipnis (Ramirez played second).

June 18 (Sunday)

Optioned 3B Giovanny Urshela to Columbus (AAA)

Optioned SP Mike Clevinger to Columbus (AAA) - 26th Man

Recalled RP Shawn Armstrong (AAA)

This gave the Indians another fresh arm, but again one that they wouldn’t have to use.

June 22 (Thursday)

Recalled SP Mike Clevinger from Columbus (AAA)

Placed RP Cody Allen on the Paternity List

The timing of Allen’s departure allowed the Indians to keep both Armstrong and Plutko in the bullpen rather than have to send one of them down to make room for Clevinger. As mentioned above, the 10-day minimum for a player optioned to the minors didn’t apply to Clevinger, as was the designated 26th for the doubleheader on Saturday.

Summary

Baseball is unique among professional sports in that playing time (or in this case innings) in one game could have a domino effect over the next several games. Carlos Carrasco pitched 6.1 innings on Friday night, the Indians blew out the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of the doubleheader, and Corey Kluber pitched a complete game on Monday in Baltimore, all of which allowed the Indians to get through 8 games in 7 days without taxing the back of the bullpen, and that includes the two games that Cody Allen missed.

Next week’s potential moves

The Indians will need to make room for as many as 4 returning players this week. Cody Allen should rejoin the club on Sunday (or maybe Saturday), Michael Brantley is on track to come off the disabled list on Monday, and both Brandon Guyer and Abe Almonte are on rehab assignments and close to returning. My guess is that the Indians option either Armstrong or Plutko to make room for Allen, option the other to make room for Brantley, then designate Daniel Robertson for assignment when Guyer returns. Almonte has an option year remaining, so they’ll probably just option him to Columbus when he’s ready to return to the active roster; Austin Jackson is playing very well, and Bradley Zimmer isn’t going to Columbus any time soon.

Danny Salazar’s return is bit more murky. He is throwing again, but he’ll at least a couple of minor-league starts before he’d be ready to return to the Cleveland rotation or bullpen.

Terry Francona is trying any number of ways to get Erik Gonzalez into the lineup, including a spot start in the outfield on Thursday. With Brantley and Guyer both re-joining the club in the next 3-4 days, that option won’t be available any longer. Perhaps the team will add a backup infield with the spot cleared by Daniel Robertson, allowing them to option Gonzalez to Columbus. Michael Martinez is now available, in case you were wondering...

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