Tribe bullpen must readjust for lefty hitters

Olson lone active left-handed reliever; Breslow signed to Minors deal

Tribe bullpen must readjust for lefty hitters

CLEVELAND -- The idea going into this season was to leverage Andrew Miller in later innings and use Boone Logan as a specialist against left-handed hitters. With both currently shelved by injuries, Indians manager Terry Francona is doing what he can to mix and match.

The biggest challenge, until Miller returns from the 10-day disabled list from right knee soreness, might be finding solutions against tough left-handed hitters. For now, Cleveland's lone lefty in the bullpen is Tyler Olson, putting the onus on the Tribe's other right-handed relievers to help pick up the slack.

"We'd like to give Tyler some opportunities," Francona said prior to Friday's game against the Yankees. "We also don't want to just overwhelm [him]. That's not developing. With our righties, they've been through it before. They can do it. Missing a guy like Andrew, that's a lot to miss. But, we have guys who can do it. The hope is that, when Andrew comes back, the guys who have worked in the meantime, it'll be good for them and make us better."

Miller landed on the DL on Wednesday, and the Indians hope the lefty will only miss 10 days. Logan, on the other hand, sustained a left lat injury on July 19 and is out for an extended period of time. The Indians announced on Friday that Logan has opted not to have surgery, but has been shut down from all throwing and is likely out for the remainder of the season.

On Friday, Cleveland did make a move to strengthen its depth, signing veteran left-hander Craig Breslow to a Minor League contract. He will report to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. Breslow, who was recently designated for assignment by the Twins, had a 5.23 ERA in 30 games this season but held left-handed hitters to a .200 average.

In left-on-left matchups, Olson excelled at Triple-A this season with a .132 opponents' average and .552 opponents' OPS in 85 plate appearances. Through four Major League outings, he has allowed no runs with four strikeouts and no walks in 3 2/3 innings.

As for Cleveland's right-handed-relief options, Nick Goody (.191 average in 47 at-bats) and Bryan Shaw (.200 average in 60 at-bats) have done well against lefty batters this season. Closer Cody Allen has also turned in relatively even splits against lefties (.240 average) and righties (.237 average) this year.

With Miller out, Allen could also see more leverage usage, as opposed to being limited to just save situations.

"I told Cody that," Francona said. "We were already kind of doing that. I told Cody that, depending on how much he's pitched, we might use him earlier, just because you hate to wait around for the ninth inning and not get there. I'd have to feel like we have a legitimate guy to pitch the ninth inning."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.