Cleveland has called up pitcher Sam Hentges and optioned Ben Gamel, according to MLB.com’s Mandy Bell.
The Indians have recalled Sam Hentges from the alternate training site. Ben Gamel has been optioned.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) April 17, 2021
Hentges, 24, has not yet made his MLB debut but pitched in Double-A in 2019. Then, in 128.8 innings, he carried a 21.4% strikeout rate, 10.9% walk rate, and a 5.11 ERA. He was a starter there, as he has been throughout his minor-league career, but this call-up is most likely as long-relief insurance with how hard Cleveland has had to ride their bullpen in the last few games.
Cleveland has leaned on their relievers for 27.0 innings over the last week, third-most in the American League in that span behind the Yankees and Rays. Friday’s starter Logan Allen lasted just two innings against the Reds.
Ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the organization by FanGraphs, Hentges has a fastball that has been clocked at 99 mph with the potential to touch triple digits out of the bullpen. He also features a good breaking ball and a changeup that looked like it was a work in progress the last time scouts had consistent eyes on it.
Cleveland will play today and tomorrow in a National League park, making Ben Gamel expendable for the time being as Franmil Reyes is shifted out of the DH role to get him some at-bats in the outfield. Gamel finally notched his first hit yesterday, a ground-rule double in the fourth inning, but he’s 1-for-14 on the season and doesn’t make much sense in a platoon, anyway, given that he hits left-handed pitchers better than righties. His move to the minors this time around may or may not be permanent, but it feels inevitable soon if it isn’t now.
Gamel’s platoon mate, Jordan Luplow, also homered off a Reds right-hander yesterday, and he should have had one to his name off another righty on April 10, but the umpires ruled otherwise and gave him a double. Perhaps Gamel being optioned signals that Cleveland is ready to take Luplow off of a platoon — as they tried in 2019 — but it’s too early to tell right now. Luplow has a pretty significant gap between righties (.269 wOBA) and lefties (.400 wOBA) in his five-year career.