Guardians option struggling Plesac

May 5th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- It’s official: The Guardians have sent starter down to Triple-A Columbus.

After Wednesday night’s series finale in New York, the club announced that would get the start in Cleveland on Friday -- which ordinarily would have been Plesac’s day to pitch. It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that the Guardians said they were optioning Plesac to Triple-A Columbus. On Friday, was activated off the injured list.

“Messaging [to Plesac] was that we’re not giving up by any means, we just didn’t see it happening here," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "We felt like if he goes to Triple-A and he can work on trying to stay in his delivery, all things he’s been trying to do here without the results so important at a Major League game, maybe he can be able to kind of rediscover who he is."

Hentges coming back is what expedited this move. The Guardians needed a roster spot, and sending a starter -- Plesac or Battenfield -- to Columbus was the easiest way to free up that space. If the club didn’t need to create a vacancy just yet, Thursday’s off-day could have provided an opportunity to skip Plesac or Battenfield’s turn in the rotation without throwing anyone else’s schedule off track.

But why put off the inevitable if Cleveland already determined this was the best move? Plus, Francona said he thought it was best to give an extra day of rest after he threw 104 pitches in Boston his last time out. With the number of young arms that are now in this rotation, the Guardians will have to keep a close eye on pitch/innings counts all year long.

So the decision had to be made now, and after Plesac got off to a slow start following his shaky 2022 season, it was time for him to get this reset. He’s pitched to a 7.59 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP, 14 strikeouts and five walks in 21 1/3 innings.

This has become a trend for the right-hander, who admitted in Spring Training that he struggled with the mental game last year, often allowing things to unravel on the mound when mistakes were made behind him. Plesac was confident that he would be able to put that in the rearview mirror and rediscover the groove he was in during the shortened 2020 season, but it did not appear that he was trending in that direction.

“In the bullpen, [pitching coach Carl Willis] said he's been very good," Francona said. "Then, whether it’s the stress or the emotion of the game, whatever it is, he’s trying to do more and then you see less command. So, got to figure it out. Carl said, 'I don’t know how to tell you not to do that, but we got to figure out a way.'"

Now the pressure is off Plesac as he tries to find answers for what’s gone wrong over the last few seasons. He’ll need to show tremendous improvements with Columbus to work his way back into the Guardians’ rotation, especially considering pitching prospects like (Guardians' No. 2) and (No. 17) are making a lot of noise in the Minors. And Allen and both have looked extremely impressive in their first two big league outings. For now, Plesac will join Columbus's rotation, getting his first start on Saturday.