CLEVELAND -- The Indians' beleaguered bullpen took another hit on Saturday, when manager Terry Francona revealed that relief ace Andrew Miller was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season. There is no timetable for return for the left-hander right now.In a pair of transactions related to
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' beleaguered bullpen took another hit on Saturday, when manager Terry Francona revealed that relief ace Andrew Miller was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season. There is no timetable for return for the left-hander right now.
In a pair of transactions related to Cleveland's struggling relief corps, the Indians put Miller on the 10-day DL due to right knee inflammation -- the same knee that required two DL stints for the lefty last year -- and designated righty Oliver Drake for assignment. The Tribe recalled right-handers Evan Marshall and Ben Taylor from Triple-A Columbus to assume those spots in the bullpen.
"It's that knee again," Francona said. "And just from talking to him and talking to the trainers, it's just not allowing him to be himself right now. That's probably the best way I could put it. So we're going to put our heads together, and I don't know what the next step will be. We're going to try to get him to a place where he can be himself."
Francona noted that the right knee injury, which was classified as patellar tendinitis and sidelined Miller for more than a month between August and September last season, has been an underlying issue "the entire time" this year for the lefty. That may have played a role in the left hamstring injury that Miller sustained in April, leading to a stint on the 10-day DL.
In 17 appearances this season, Miller has a 4.40 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 10 walks in 14 1/3 innings. Since his return from the DL on May 11, however, the Tribe's primary leverage weapon has allowed seven runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings (six outings), in which he allowed a 1.362 opponents' OPS. That includes three runs surrendered in the eighth inning of Friday's 11-2 loss to the Astros.
"I wish I had the answers," Miller said after Friday's loss. "I'm looking for everything and working hard at it. I think there's flashes of it, but it's been a pretty big grind lately."
Miller's struggles have been only a part of the Indians' overall woes in relief.
On April 23, the Indians' bullpen ranked fourth in the Majors with a 2.55 ERA, but things have spiraled out of control since then. Entering Saturday, Cleveland's bullpen had an 8.92 ERA with a .993 opponents' OPS in 72 2/3 innings going back to that date. Overall, the Tribe's bullpen headed into Saturday ranked last in MLB in ERA (6.23), fielding independent pitching (4.85) and home runs allowed per nine innings (1.65), among other statistics.
Through it all, the Indians have cycled through 14 relievers, which is more than Cleveland used all of last season (excluding starting pitchers making temporary relief stints or pitching appearances by position players). Cleveland also has had to designate a handful of pitchers for assignment (Matt Belisle, Jeff Beliveau, Alexi Ogando and Drake) in the process.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Belisle, Beliveau and Ogando (who accepted an outright assignment Saturday) are all back in Triple-A now.
"It hasn't been fun," Francona said. "Like I said [Friday] night, I didn't just sign up for the good stuff. We all feel it, and we'll all try to figure it out together. That's the best way I know how to do it. The other guys aren't going to feel sorry for us, so we've got to figure it out."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.