Cleveland Indians Transactions: Zach McAllister activated from DL, CC Lee optioned to Columbus

Zach McAllister - Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

And so the bullpen is back to seven pitchers again.

Zach McAllister last pitched for the Indians on June 2, so he ended up missing 8 or 9 starts, or a little less than a third of the season. The Indians used mostly Carlos Carrasco to make those starts, which obviously didn't go well, as well as Danny Salazar for a start, which went famously well.

McAllister before his injury had a fine 3.43 ERA, but had fallen off a bit in the starts leading up to his DL stint. The main reason why he struggled was that he couldn't throw his curve because of the sore, and removing that weapon from his arsenal of pitches had serious consequences. That's when the Indians decided to place him on the DL and get the finger fully healed.

So what happens with Danny Salazar, who would have continued to fill in for McAllister? Because Salazar is on a rather strict innings limit this season, you can't just send him to Columbus and have him start, because AAA innings count towards his innings limit just as MLB innings would. One temporary solution that the Indians are thinking about is to move Salazar to the bullpen:

If the Indians do add Salazar to the pen, it could help control his innings because of his Tommy John surgery in August of 2010. He pitched only 14 2/3 innings in 2011 and 87 2/3 innings in 2012.

"It's easier to say you're going to put a guy in the bullpen than to do it," said Francona. "All of a sudden you get a blowout game and a guy isn't used to coming back real quick.

To address Francona's concern, you could pre-determine the games that Salazar would pitch in, and send him out regardless of whether the game is a blowout or a close game. That would certainly lead to some second-guessing, particularly if Salazar pitched the eighth instead of Joe Smith and gave up the go-ahead run, but that would allay any concerns about pitching on consecutive days. You could tie Salazar's appearances to Jimenez's or Kazmir's starts, two pitchers that generally don't go deep into games. I think pairing Salazar with Kazmir would be especially effective, as most clubs will run out a right-handed heavy lineup against Kazmir, and if Salazar came in for the sixth inning, the opposing manager would have to either empty his bench or take platoon disadvantage. Just something to think about.

As for today's roster, CC Lee was optioned to Columbus to make room for McAllister on the 25-man roster. The pitching staff now features the standard five starters and seven relievers. Here's the latest 25-man/40-man roster:

July_23_2013_medium

Take a look at the distribution of the 15 optioned to the minors. With Blake Wood now on the 40-man roster, that means that there are 12 pitchers optioned and only 3 position players optioned. And with most of the pitchers in Columbus, that means only five active pitchers on the Clipper roster are not on the 40-man roster (Clay Rapada, Boof Bonser, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Bryan Price, and Fernando Nieve). That will need to be fixed in the offseason when the Indians need to add some of their high-level position player prospects, but for now that means the Indians have a lot of options if they need to bring up an extra arm.

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