Battenfield is starting. So what’s next for Plesac?

May 4th, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Guardians’ offense once again failed to pick up steam in New York. The bullpen hasn’t been as sharp as it was last season and Cleveland has now dropped five consecutive series. But, if nothing else, the club may have some clarity as to how its rotation will look for the foreseeable future.

After Cleveland’s 4-3, 10-inning loss at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, the Guardians announced that Friday’s starter against the Twins at Progressive Field will be , who last made an appearance in relief on Sunday in Boston.

If the Guardians had kept the rotation in order, would’ve been the next pitcher to take the ball. However, manager Terry Francona said on Tuesday that both Plesac and Battenfield had thrown side sessions in preparation to make Friday’s start. Since Tanner Bibee was called up last week due to a rainout that changed up the rotation, the Guardians have six starters on their roster and were trying to decide who the odd man out would be.

The first step in making this decision was getting through the road trip. Because the club has six starters, that means it is one reliever short of what it would like to have. The Guardians wanted to make sure they waited to announce their plans for Friday in case any of their starters had a short outing in New York and either Battenfield or Plesac needed to be used in relief.

Now that this possibility is out of the way, the club at least announced that Battenfield will start Friday. However, the Guardians have yet to provide clarity on what this decision means for Plesac. Until more information comes (likely on Friday, due to Thursday’s off-day), let’s take a look at three scenarios:

1. Option Plesac to Triple-A Columbus
This choice makes a lot of sense. The Guardians will need to open a roster spot on Friday in order to activate lefty reliever  from the injured list. Plesac being optioned would not only unclutter the rotation, it would also allow Hentges to easily be added back on the active roster.

Plesac hasn’t been optioned to the Minors since he broke COVID-19 protocols with teammate Mike Clevinger in 2020. But because he still has two options remaining, he may need a trip down to Triple-A to help him get back on the right track. He has struggled to start the season, owning a 7.59 ERA and a 1.969 WHIP in five starts, with 14 strikeouts and five walks in 21 1/3 innings -- this coming a year after he admitted to having difficulties remaining mentally strong on the rubber when things didn’t go his way in ‘22.

Maybe a reset is what’s needed.

2. Move Plesac to the bullpen
Plesac could be a long-relief option out of Cleveland’s bullpen, but that would likely mean would no longer have a role to fill. And because Curry has been excellent in that spot for the Guardians this year, it’s hard to imagine that Cleveland would want to send him down.

Could Plesac and Curry both be in the bullpen? Well, stranger things have happened. But who would the team send to Triple-A with Hentges set to return on Friday? And if the Guardians did decide to option someone else to Columbus, would Plesac be able to be used in more than just a long-relief role?

There would be a lot of questions to answer if he makes the move to the ‘pen.

3. Have Plesac skip a start
Could the Guardians think Plesac just needs to catch his breath? This is by far the most unlikely of the three scenarios, but maybe the team could try to keep him as an emergency relief option for one turn through the rotation before sending him back to the rubber to attempt to rediscover the groove he was once in a few years ago. In this case, the Guardians would still need to find another body to move in order to get Hentges back on the roster, which may cause some headaches. Plus, the team would still be down one regular reliever, especially if Plesac would be used to piggyback off Battenfield on Friday.

The more we work through this, the more sense the first option makes.