Guardians' 'pen set; 2 position battles remain

March 25th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The bullpen is set.

The Guardians finalized the eight hurlers who will fill their 'pen on Friday afternoon, as manager Terry Francona informed both right-hander and left-hander that they made the club. Righty , who was a non-roster invitee in camp, was reassigned to Minor League camp.

The bullpen officially consists of , , , , , , Gaddis and Herrin.

Kelly was an intriguing option for Cleveland. He threw the ball well all spring, aside from one rough outing on March 10 that consisted of three walks in one-third of an inning. The biggest concern was with his command. He’s had high walk rates throughout his Minor League career, but showed improvements throughout the spring. It didn’t help that he wasn’t on the already-full 40-man roster. Now, the Guardians are confident that after some time in the Minors, he’ll be able to help the big league team.

"Michael had one outing that was kind of tough, but other than that, he was pretty damn good," Francona said. "And we told him there’s a lot to like and we’re excited to get him going. … My guess is we’ll probably see him and he’ll help us."

Now Herrin and Gaddis can celebrate the fact that they’ve secured their Opening Day roster spots. Herrin became an even clearer option for the Guardians after lefty   -- the only other lefty expected to make the roster -- was sidelined with left shoulder inflammation. Herrin can now fill that void, while quickly getting adjusted to the big leagues.

Herrin made 34 appearances in Triple-A last year, posting a 5.36 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 17 walks in 47 innings. This spring, he’s allowed five runs in 9 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

"He did a good job,” Francona said. “And we told him, we said, hey, we wanted him to be excited about making it, but he’s not the finished product. We recognize that. But the hope is that while he’s developing, he can help us win. And he can still develop and we’ll do the best we can.”

Gaddis proved he was ready for this opportunity all throughout camp, pitching to a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings with a team-high 17 strikeouts. The only question that was left to answer was whether the Guardians would be able to balance stretching him out to have as a starting option while also having him as an option out of the ‘pen. He’s scheduled to throw 65-70 pitches on Saturday in a Minor League game to continue his progression and he’ll easily be a multi-inning relief option, should the club need it.

"He came in ready to go," said Francona. "We had tried to get him ready to make some adjustments over the winter, arm slots, things like that. Did a good job with that. Stuff was really good. Now, I also thought that [Xzavion] Curry, we sent him to Triple-A, but he did a pretty damn good job, too."

Curry and Gaddis were in the same boat. The Guardians just opted to have Gaddis on the active roster and move Curry to the Minor League side to be ready just in case the team encounters early-season weather issues that would result in a need for a starting pitcher for a doubleheader. Curry will be ready to get that call.

After settling the bullpen, the Guardians have two position battles remaining: backup catcher (, and ) and the last bench spot (outfielders Richie Palacios and ). 

“We told the position players we’re trying to get there because I know they’re starting to feel it,” Francona said. “I get it. They’re talking about the trucks being packed and where the cars are going. Guys want to know. So, we’re working to it.”