The Cleveland Indians bullpen was a conentious topic heading into the season, but this group has performed much better than anticipiated thus far.
After the departures of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller this past offseason many anticipated an absolute dumpster fire in the Cleveland Indians bullpen. However the early returns suggest the complete opposite. Cleveland has the fourth-best bullpen ERA at this point in the season per Baseball Reference.
If fans were polled before the season the overwhelming majority would have voted that the Indians would have one of the worst bullpen ERA’s, not one of the best.
Outstanding appearances from unlikely sources
Cleveland closer Brad Hand leads the Indians bullpen with an ERA of 1.42 in 13 games. Hand has pitched 12.2 innings and has eight saves on the year. Hand has been the dominant arm in the back end of the bullpen that Cleveland needed after Allen and Miller left in free agency.
Tyler Olson is also having a good start to 2019. In 12 appearances Olson has an ERA of 3.38 over eight innings. Olson has taken over the reliable left hander in the Tribe bullpen after the departure of Miller and the early struggles of Oliver Perez.
One of the more surprising starts is that of Dan Otero. The much maligned right hander has an ERA of 1.50 in 10 games. Otero has even been able to pitch more than just one innings as he has pitched in 12 innings total so far.
Newly acquired reliever Nick Wittgren has been a valuable arm for Tito and Co. Wittgren came from Miami this past offseason and is performing above expectations. In seven games Wittgren has an ERA of 0.96 over 9.1 innings. Like Otero, Wittgren has been able to pitch multiple innings for the Indians.
Some of the performances are above the talent level of those who are performing well. There may be some correction in both directions for the Cleveland bullpen. Those who are struggling and those who are pitching well should level out as the season progresses. The Indians bullpen ERA may drop a bit, but it is not in as poor shape as many expected.