Brad Hand in Midseason Form for Cleveland Indians

Brad Hand

Pitching is the Name of the Game for the Indians

On Monday, the Cleveland Indians opened up game one of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals with a win. Cleveland won by a final score of 5-2 and extended their current win streak to three games.

In regards to the rest of the American League Central landscape, the Indians are tied for first place with the Chicago White Sox. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins sit a game back of both teams. To date, the race between those three teams has been one of the most fascinating storylines around baseball this year.

For the Indians, the starting pitching continues to be very effective. Mandy Bell of MLB.com provided some context in regards to the rotation over the last two weeks.

Shane Bieber leads the way among the starting rotation over that span. However, Cleveland has gotten very good starts from the rest of the rotation as well. Zach Plesac has also stood out since being recalled on September 1.

Between the start on September 1 and Monday’s game against the Royals, Plesac has a 1.38 ERA. Furthermore, he has held opposing hitters to a .224 batting average and has 10 strikeouts between both of those games. On the year, Plesac now has a 1.32 ERA over 34 innings of work or five starts with a 9.00 K/9 rate.

While the starting rotation has been effective during this span, there’s a member of the bullpen that deserves plenty of recognition as well. That’s left-handed closer Brad Hand.

Brad Hand Locks Things Down at the Backend

Brad Hand, aka “Brotato,” has settled into midseason form after struggling during his first few outings this season. After Monday’s game, Hand now owns a 2.45 ERA over 16 appearances with four earned runs, 19 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average against of .180.

However, as mentioned before, the season definitely didn’t start out in Hand’s favor. During the month of July alone, he racked up a 15.43 ERA throughout three games while recording four earned runs. After showing a lot of promise during the 2019 season and giving the Indians a lot of confidence in the ninth inning, it looked as though Hand was headed in the wrong direction. Although, with the uniqueness of this season, some of those struggles were to be expected.

Once the calendar switched to August, another light switch turned on for the 30-year old. Since that time, he has pitched in 12 different games posting a 0.00 ERA over that span. Furthermore, Hand has 12 strikeouts over that span and a 0.74 WHIP.

Looking at just the last seven games alone, the results are equally as impressive. Hand has combined for a 0.00 ERA over that period with five saves, three hits allowed, and seven strikeouts. His effectiveness is coming at a perfect time, considering that there is a little less than three weeks left of the regular season.

Hand has been a member of Cleveland’s bullpen since halfway through the 2018 regular season. He is in the last guaranteed season of his current contract. However, that deal includes a $10 million team option or a $1 million buyout option for next year. If Hand continues to pitch at this level, it’s hard to see the Indians not picking up his option.

Final Thoughts

The main hallmark of the Indians this year has been the starting rotation. Cleveland has done a phenomenal job this season and over the past few seasons of continually getting effective performances out of their starters. Even after the team trades away one starter such as Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and more recently Mike Clevinger, there’s another waiting in the wings that steps up and performs.

Now, the focus is going to be for the Indians’ rotation to continue to perform at this level into October. If that happens, then the Indians could find themselves playing deep into the postseason.

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