Lost in the offensive onslaught and a gem of a performance by Shane Bieber in Tuesday’s series-opening 10-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium was a masterclass in efficiency by Cleveland’s bullpen.
Bryan Shaw, Emmanuel Clase and Nick Sandlin combined for three scoreless innings in relief, striking out six, walking one and allowing just one hit.
“I think our bullpen all year has done a terrific job,” manager Terry Francona said. “Shaw has been terrific. [James] Karinchak [has] been terrific.”
Following his scoreless inning on Tuesday, Clase now has a 1.05 ERA in 25 2/3 innings pitched with nine saves and 28 strikeouts.
“Clase is certainly right in there with them,” Francona added. “And for a young guy, 23 years old -- sometimes we forget he's 23 and didn't play last year.”
Entering Wednesday, Cleveland’s bullpen ranks fifth in all of MLB with a 3.29 ERA. The bullpen’s 1.8 fWAR standing is good for sixth in all of the American League.
“We've liked our bullpen right from the get-go,” Francona said. “We've had to dip into it a little bit to make some guys starters, which makes it a little harder, but we like our bullpen a lot.”
Ramírez loves the fastball
When José Ramírez deposited Carlos Martínez’s 93.5 mph fastball into the right-field seats in the third inning on Tuesday, it gave him his 14th homer of the season.
Ten of those 14 homers have been on fastballs in '21, just two shy of the 12 he hit on fastballs in '20, the year he placed second in American League MVP balloting.
While his current batting average of .265 against fastballs is down from last year’s .298, his exit velocity average of 92.6 is on its way to being the highest of his career since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
His xwOBA (which measures offensive value by weighting outcomes by their run value) against fastballs stands at .442, another career-high mark.
Triston McKenzie, who was optioned on June 1 to Triple-A Columbus, tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his start Sunday, striking out four in the process.
While it hasn’t been made official yet, McKenzie is likely to get the start in Saturday’s second game against the Mariners at home.
Cleveland would like to see McKenzie carry over that performance. In his last start on the big league team, he allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.