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The Indians have a good problem to solve

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Week in transactions: One should not look a gift pitcher in the mouth.

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Transactions

July 21

Placed LHP Boone Logan on the 10-day Disabled List (lat strain)
Purchased the contract of LHP Tyler Olson and recalled him

There’s no timetable for Logan’s return, which doesn’t bode well for his return in 2017. We don’t know exactly how severe the injury is, but even if it’s “just” a strain, the recovery time is going to be extensive.

To replace Logan, the Indians added Tyler Olson to the roster. They acquired Olson off waivers from Kansas City a year ago, and outrighted him a month later. He has been very effective against left-handed hitters in AAA (.127 BAA), which is why the Indians tabbed him (rather than Kyle Crockett, who was already on the 40-man roster). Even so, I think the Indians will try to add a left-handed reliever via trade in July or August.

July 22

Activated RHP Danny Salazar from the Disabled List
Optioned LHP Ryan Merritt to Columbus (AAA)

Salazar ended up missing seven weeks, but if he pitches even 75% as well as he pitched on Saturday, that time spent rehabbing his arm and refining his mechanics will have been well worth it.

July 25

Activated OF Austin Jackson from the Disabled List
Optioned LHP Tyler Olson to Columbus (AAA)

Jackson had been playing very well before the injury, and with Lonnie Chisenhall on the DL, he’s going to get regular playing time for at least the next week or so. He’ll play mostly in right field (which is a newish position for him), and spell Bradley Zimmer against select left-handed pitchers.

July 26

Recalled RHP Shawn Armstrong from Columbus (AAA)
Optioned OF Abraham Almonte to Columbus (AAA)

After the eleven-inning game (combined with Clevinger’s short outing), the Indians desperately needed another arm in the bullpen, and so had to resort to sending Abe Almonte to Columbus. Should Almonte stay in the minors for 20 days, his option will be considered to have been used. Almonte would have been the odd man out when Chisenhall returned, but it would have been nice to have the option of a left-handed hitter in the lineup until then.

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster

July 27 2017

The Indians didn’t need to drop anyone off the 40-man roster when they added Tyler Olson, as they had previously opened up a spot when they move Joe Colon to the Restricted List.

The Six-Man Pitching Staff (but not rotation)

After yesterday’s game, in which Trevor Bauer threw eight outstanding innings, Terry Francona seemed to indicate that the Indians would stay with the current setup, which is six starters. However, that doesn’t mean the Indians will have a regular rotation. One starter could be pushed back to give him more rest, or skipped entirely, depending on the schedule and how difficult the previous outing was. Because that would mean the Indians would be going with six relievers in the bullpen, a starter could be used out of the bullpen on his “side day” if the situation called for it.

Also it is worth noting that Mike Clevinger’s career-high in innings pitched is 158 (2015), and those were all made in minor-league games; he’s already thrown 104.1 innings this year between Columbus and Cleveland, so being able to scale back his innings down the stretch would be a side benefit, assuming that the back end of the rotation pulls their own weight.

The injury front and the trade deadline

Last time I thought the Indians would be well-served in acquiring a starting pitcher, but Salazar’s outing has me re-thinking that. If the Indians can get the early 2016 Salazar, then the starting pitching isn’t going to be as dire a need.

So let me amend my wish list:

  1. Backup middle infielder/bench player. Asdrubal Cabrera would be a very nice fit, both as a fill-in for Kipnis/Lindor/Ramirez, but also as a pinch-hitter off the bench for later in the season.
  2. Relief pitcher. Preferably a left-hander, but if the Indians can nab a good right-hander, I’m not going to complain. Another late-inning option would help take some of the burden off Miller/Allen/Shaw.

Neither trade would cost the Indians Francisco Mejia or Triston McKenzie. The only way I think the Indians would deal either would be in a trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter with multiple years of control. Sonny Gray is the only available starter that fits this criteria. There might be a rental available (such as Yu Darvish), but I don’t see the Indians dealing one of their top prospects for Darvish.

If the Indians want a corner slugger, the price for those players seems to be very affordable. The Tigers dealt J.D. Martinez without getting back a top-tier (as in ranked on a top #100 list) prospect.