Allen earns nod for Tribe's '21 home opener

April 4th, 2021

The new and improved will toe the rubber in the Tribe’s home opener for his first start of the season. Monday’s game against the Royals will also mark the left-hander’s first regular-season start in more than a year and a half.

The fourth spot in Cleveland's pitching rotation was up for grabs heading into spring, and it came down to Allen, and during the last couple of weeks of Spring Training.

"We had Logan scheduled to start, I just wasn't ready to announce anything,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And if you say 'won,' he kind of says the other. We knew Logan was going to start Game 4."

Allen's offseason work to drop 35 pounds and his stellar numbers in Spring Training set up the 23-year-old to be one of the pitchers the Tribe wanted to see against the Royals.

“We just thought the way he pitched this spring, he really deserved it,” Francona said.

While the benefits of Allen's keto diet were evident when he walked into Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona this spring, the mechanical adjustments in his delivery were eye-opening, too. Allen posted a 0.64 ERA over 14 innings in Cactus League play, recording three walks and 18 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .188 average.

The lone run he allowed came off the bat of Texas' Nick Solak in Allen's second spring appearance. Allen responded by pitching nine scoreless innings across his next two starts.

Since he was acquired by Cleveland in the Trevor Bauer trade in 2019, Allen has worked exclusively out of the bullpen and owns a 2.77 ERA across 13 innings (four appearances) as a reliever.

This marks the first time in Allen’s career that he made the Major League roster coming out of Spring Training. He made his MLB debut with the Padres on June 18, 2019, tossing seven shutout innings against the Brewers for his first win.

Easing into everyday starts
The various off-days in the first couple weeks of 2021 are keeping from seeing everyday action at shortstop or in center field. The consistency of taking the field won’t happen until the Indians' schedule starts to stack up.

"It's hard to get a rotation going early in the year with all the off-days. Certainly didn't want him to not play for over an extended period of time,” Francona said. “He's going to play both center and short. It'll certainly be much easier as we start having games back to back, where you don't have a day off for a couple of weeks. We have so many days off now that it's a little challenging,”

Rosario made his Cleveland debut on Opening Day as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth, singling during the Tribe’s late push. His offensive output was a highlight during Spring Training, as he posted a .323 average.

MLB debut
, the Tribe's 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick, made his Major League debut in the ninth inning against the Tigers on Saturday, and he allowed just one hit and struck out two. His ability to get quick outs, even with the evident first-game jitters, made an impression.

"His poise was really good,” Francona said. “He spun breaking balls for strikes. He's spun some that weren't strikes. He scattered a couple fastballs, but he also threw some good fastballs. So again, it was his first outing. I thought it was successful.”

The call to the bullpen couldn't have come at a better time with Stephan’s father in attendance. The long road from T-ball to being drafted at age 17 made Saturday momentous for the Stephan family.

“[My father has] been the No. 1 fan since I started playing baseball. I know for a fact that he was more nervous than I was,” Stephan said. “I thought the nerves were manageable. For me, I was just trying to get the leadoff hitter out and go from there.”

The right-hander appeared in 10 Cactus League games for Cleveland, striking out 16 over 10 1/3 innings and pitching to a 3.48 ERA.

Stephan spent three years in the Yankees' organization before he was selected by the Indians on Dec. 10.