Welcome to the Corner Chronicles — a weekly dive into what happened this week in Cleveland baseball, from the deep dingers to the decisions that shape the team.
Sunday, March 28
With only a couple of spring training games remaining, Cleveland made their final roster moves by adding Logan Allen and Yu Chang to the active roster. Allen was expected to log some innings in the fourth game of the season, April 5, and would either start or come in to relieve an opener — potentially Triston McKenzie.
Monday, March 29
On Monday, the roster was officially set, with Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale set to start the first three games of the season.
Also an important story: Cleveland and Perry’s Ice Cream teamed up to create “Doughing, Doughing, Gone!”, available for purchase for retailers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Tuesday, March 30
Tuesday was a quiet day for Cleveland baseball, but a huge day for this blog. After 15 years of covering the Cleveland baseball team as “Let’s Go Tribe” our site has re-emerged as “Covering the Corner.”
New name, new logo, same great Cleveland baseball coverage.— Covering the Corner (@CovertheCorner) March 30, 2021
Welcome to Covering the Corner! https://t.co/wFYCPvLQLx
The Covering the Corner staff gave our predictions for the 2021 season. Some of them are already looking bad.
On the field, Cleveland played their final tune-up game of the spring. I couldn’t tell you the final score if I tried, and I have no desire to look it up, but they made it to the regular season healthy and that’s all that matters.
Wednesday, March 31
Opening Day Eve — either the best or worst holiday depending on your patience level.
Terry Francona revealed that he would be going with a closer by committee to utilize his relievers’ “different skill sets.” That means Nick Wittgren, Emmanuel Clase, and James Karinchak will likely each get their fair share of saves and also be used in high-leverage situations.
If that sounds familiar, it has shades of 2016 when Andrew Miller was the team’s fireman while Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen closed down games on the back-end. That bullpen was one of the best of this century, so I’m not saying Clawitinchak can match it quite yet, but with the right utilization, they could be special.
Cleveland also announced that no Native American headdresses or red-face will be permitted at the Progressive Field. Chief Wahoo gear, — which they own and still profit from — will be allowed, however.
Thursday, April 1
Opening Day! Baseball got underway, and with the exception of the Nationals and Mets, it went off without a hitch (the Red Sox and Orioles were delayed, but I will happily consider a weather delay part of “normal” baseball).
Cleveland opened the season in a snowstorm, and the offense was terrible. The good news is that the snow provided some amazing imagery, ranging from Miguel Cabrera circling the bases in slow motion as the snow fell around him ...
Petition to put this in the Louvre. pic.twitter.com/bKrBSgwrd5— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 1, 2021
... to Yu Chang’s endearing smile gracing us all on this blessed day.
It wasn’t all snow and sadness, though. Shane Bieber was outstanding with 12 strikeouts on the day, joining an elite group of pitchers who have struck out at least 12 in multiple Opening Day starts.
Shane Bieber punched out 12 yesterday; 14 on Opening Day last year.— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 2, 2021
The only other pitchers to have 12 or more strikeouts on Opening Day twice in Major League history? Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Bob Gibson.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/ZUY2rDZsM1
The game also continued a yearly tradition of Cleveland opening starters not getting any run support. Bieber managed to win with a shutout last year, but before him, Corey Kluber either lost or finished with a no-decision in five straight starts, despite routinely pitching lights out. Before that, Justin Masteron beat the Oakland Athletics, 2-0, in 2014.
A late rally by Cleveland was stopped short, but it gave us our first home run of 2021 — this Bebo dinger:
On the still-unnamed Covering the Corner Prospect Podcast, Matt Schlichting and Brian Hemminger talked about their most surprising (and disappointing) prospect roster moves, and discussed how we are all eagerly awaiting the MiLB season to start next month.
Friday, April 2
No Cleveland game on the second day of the season. The team took a much-needed break after the grind of their one (1) game losing streak. They, along with half the league, sat out just in case a delay was required on Opening Day. And clearly, since the weather in Detroit was pristine the day before, they required no such break.
More importantly on this day, baseball decided to pull the plug on the All-Star Game in Georgia, in response to pressure from sponsors over Georgia’s voter-suppression laws. In a rare twist of fate, baseball actually did the right thing and announced that the game would be moved.
Huge news: Major League Baseball announces it will be moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the new voting laws passed by Georgia.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 2, 2021
No new venue has been selected yet, but Cleveland was pretty great in 2019. Just saying.
Saturday, April 3
Deja vu for Cleveland offense, as they yet again failed to score enough runs off a guy with a ridiculous ERA in 2020. This time it was former Atlanta Braves star Julio Teheran, who began his comeback by allowing one earned run off of four hits. Cleveland was able to work some long counts again him, and ended up chasing him by the sixth inning, but it wasn’t enough.
Ben Gamel made his first Cleveland start as the team’s lead-off hitter and was later pinch-hit for by Adam Rosario. Combined, the two went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
We also saw Eddie Rosario’s first home run in Cleveland — fittingly enough, it was on a high fastball.
Zach Plesac’s debut was similar to Bieber, as well, in that they both started slow, but got on track quickly. Plesac had trouble locating early and ended up walking a batter on four pitches before giving up the lead. Also, like with Bieber’s start, it was too much for the offense to overcome.
Cleveland also announced on Saturday that Logan Allen would be starting the team’s home opener on Monday, April 5 against the Royals.