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Inbox: Allen's struggles a cause for concern?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers Indians fans' questions
MLB.com @MLBastian

How concerned are you with closer Cody Allen's struggles?
-- Anton T. (@1st_and_punt on Twitter)

There is definitely some level of concern over Allen's subpar start (10.00 ERA in 10 appearances), but it is still hard to make any concrete evaluations based on nine relief innings. Most pitchers go through a rough patch at some point during a season, and it might simply be that Allen is going through that out of the gates.

How concerned are you with closer Cody Allen's struggles?
-- Anton T. (@1st_and_punt on Twitter)

There is definitely some level of concern over Allen's subpar start (10.00 ERA in 10 appearances), but it is still hard to make any concrete evaluations based on nine relief innings. Most pitchers go through a rough patch at some point during a season, and it might simply be that Allen is going through that out of the gates.

The right-hander's velocity is down a tick (94.4 mph on average compared to 95.3 mph last season, according to fangraphs.com), but it has been increasing with each appearance, and early-season readings are often slightly below average due to the colder weather. There is also nothing alarming to be found with Allen's pitch movement or release point, which is just a hair lower than last season.

Through nine innings, Allen has allowed a .519 batting average on balls in play, indicating that he's run into some hard luck early on. That said, the right-hander's walk rate (14 percent at the moment) is higher than would be expected. Again, though, that is the kind of thing that you would expect to begin dropping to a more reasonable level as Allen's innings sample grows.

Submit a question for the Inbox.

Allen went through a slightly different Spring Training program this year due to his high workload over the 2013-14 seasons with Cleveland. It is possible that the slow start to the season is somewhat related to the change in his preseason program. Beyond that, I don't see too much within the numbers that really stands out as a red flag. I think the Indians should stick by Allen and continue to monitor his progress.

Video: CLE@CWS: Allen strikes out Flowers to secure the win

The team seems to need leadership badly. With minimal changes to the roster from 2014, why does it seem so different?
-- Justin Y. (@ralphmalph25 on Twitter)

For starters, I'd say that it is easy to say a team needs better leadership when things are not going right. When have we ever heard that about a team that's playing well? Now, that said, Cleveland's players brought up the leadership issue in the immediate aftermath of the team's 10-7 comeback win over Toronto on Sunday.

"It was one of the first times this year we had guys step up and lead," Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer said. "That's a big thing for a team. We've got a bunch of young guys and the leadership has been kind of a question of, 'Who is going to take that role and where is it going to come from?' We had some guys step forward and make that picture clearer, which is good."

Added Jason Kipnis: "Some of the older guys were very forward and being vocal and saying what needed to be said, and said we needed to clean up some stuff. And we did the rest of the game."

So it's fair to say the players agree with your assessment from afar, and it seems like Sunday was a turning point along those lines. One difference is that veteran Jason Giambi, who was a clear clubhouse leader in the previous two seasons, has retired and is no longer in the fold. The onus is now on some of the other veterans, or core players, to fill that void.

Video: TOR@CLE: Kipnis opens the scoring with a solo shot

When should we expect top prospect Francisco Lindor to get called up?
-- Yonatan B. (@jmecky216 on Twitter)

The Indians said before the season that they wanted Lindor to get more seasoning at Triple-A, and the team has stuck with that approach so far -- even though shortstop Jose Ramirez (batting .194 through 20 games) has looked shaky at the plate and in the field. It is possible that Cleveland wants to wait until knowing Lindor has surpassed his Super Two cutoff date (potentially around the All-Star break), which can help a player earn an extra year of salary arbitration. If you ask me, Lindor could provide a spark to the lineup while offering plus defense. Hopefully, the Tribe doesn't wait too long to give him a shot.

Video: Top Prospects: Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians

More than merely letting "Bauer be Bauer," I've heard that the team is adapting some of Bauer's training methods. Is that true?
-- @Lark_11 (via Twitter)

During Spring Training, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said the team had indeed studied and adopted some of Bauer's techniques for its Minor Leaguers. It isn't as simple as handing out Bauer's program to Minor League pitchers, but the Tribe has added some long-toss initiatives and use of weighted baseballs in its training programs throughout the farm system.

Video: TOR@CLE: Bauer fans Bautista to end the threat

Outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer appears to be on the fast track to Cleveland. How is he doing so far this season, and do you see him as a September callup?
-- Matt V., Parma, Ohio

Through 21 games for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, the 22-year-old Zimmer has turned in a .325/.424/.532 slash line with four homers, eight extra-base hits, 11 walks, 12 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, 12 runs scored and 15 runs scored in his first full season. As strong as that start has been, don't expect Zimmer (picked 21st overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft) to be promoted all the way to Cleveland in September. A trip up to Double-A Akron, however, could be in the cards.

Video: Top Prospects: Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians

Is lefty TJ House likely to get his starting job back when he comes off the disabled list? If not, who are the most likely candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation?
-- D.P. R., Milford Center, Ohio

As things stand right now, the Indians will need a fifth starter for Saturday against the Twins. The top two candidates would appear to be veterans Bruce Chen and Shaun Marcum (both at Triple-A Columbus), but neither is currently on the 40-man roster. If the Tribe goes in that direction, the club will need to make a subsequent roster move. Double-A righty Cody Anderson is on the 40-man roster, but it'd be surprising if he got the call for that spot start. If a shoulder issue really does explain House's struggles, I could see him getting another chance once he's deemed healthy.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer, TJ House, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Bradley Zimmer