Very little has gone in the Indians’ favor over the last week. And now the club has reached a season-high eight-game losing skid after dropping Game 1 of Wednesday’s straight doubleheader against the Rays, 8-1, at Tropicana Field.
Tuesday’s originally scheduled matchup was pushed back due to Tropical Storm Elsa’s impending arrival in the St. Petersburg area. In a stretch in which Cleveland had dropped seven straight games, a day off to reset might not have been the worst thing (although it certainly brings its challenges for the pitching staff). However, the team still couldn’t find a way to get momentum back in its favor.
There have been plenty of things to point to as the reasons for the team’s struggles. Injuries have been the No. 1 source of scrambling for the roster, and the offense has received plenty of attention for its lack of timely hitting during this span. But the rotation has been equally troubling.
Cleveland has had to rely on a young, inexperienced rotation (one that includes three pitchers who made their MLB debuts this year) over the past month as Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Shane Bieber have all been sidelined with injuries. During this skid, the rotation has collectively posted a 10.50 ERA (35 earned runs, 30 innings), leaving the bullpen with little wiggle room.
“They pitched really well,” Game 1 starter J.C. Mejía said of his bullpen through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “Obviously with this long stretch, their arms may be a little bit tired. For us as starters, we haven’t done our part to take part of that load from them. But they’ve done a tremendous job so far.”
Mejía has played a large role in that. In seven starts since entering the rotation following Plesac’s thumb injury, Mejía has pitched to an 8.88 ERA (25 earned runs, 25 1/3 frames), including a six-run, 2 2/3-inning performance in Wednesday’s start against the Rays. Now that Plesac is set to rejoin the rotation on Thursday, the team can at least get one of its regular starters back on the active roster. However, the club optioned Logan Allen to Triple-A Columbus prior to the doubleheader, so it’s likely that Mejía will stay in the rotation for the time being.