Cody Allen already owns a pair of prestige records among Cleveland Indians relievers. By the end of the season, he could own one or two more.
During the golden years of the 90’s, workhorse Eric Plunk tossed 462 innings for the Tribe. He struck out a whopping 460 batters across those innings. It was an impressive run, and both of those stood as club records (among relievers) for nearly two decades. Last season, however, Allen eclipsed that mark and ultimately racked up his 484th career whiff… in nearly 90 fewer innings than Plunk pitched in a Cleveland uniform. That gives him a 11.66 career K/9 figure, which is also an Indians record and stands nearly a full strikeout per nine above second-place Vinnie Pestano (10.82).
What Other Heights Will Cody Allen Reach For His Tribe Legacy?
At this point, you’re probably wondering whether or not Allen can become the Indians’ all-time saves leader. Those of you who have already Googled it out of sheer impatience and excitement know that the current record holder for the Tribe is Bob Wickman with 139. On October 1st of last year, Allen notched his 30th and final save of the season. It was also his 122nd career save, all of them for the Indians.
Readers armed with the power of subtraction know that Allen only needs 17 saves to tie Wickman’s club record, and 18 to beat it. Considering he’s never failed to save at least 24 games in a season since taking over as the Tribe’s full-time closer, he’s a near-sure bet to own the record by the time he reaches free agency at the end of the season. At some point this season, we’ll probably watch Cody the Chicken make history.
There’s a triad of other stats to keep an eye on among qualified Tribe ‘pen arms. Allen’s 2.67 ERA is about half a run higher than current record holder Dan Otero (yes, you read that right) and his 2.14 ERA as an Indian. However, second-place Derek Lilliquist owns a 2.51 ERA with the club, so if Otero implodes and Allen somehow manages a spectacular, Zach Britton-like showing in 2018, it’s possible the Tribe closer could ascend to yet another record. Then again, this is all a moot point considering relief ace Andrew Miller will likely toss enough innings to qualify for these records by mid-season, effectively eliminating both Allen’s chance at the Tribe ERA record and his current K/9 trophy.
If he throws another 70 innings, Allen will take over third place on the list of relievers who’ve thrown the most innings for the Tribe. If he hits 75, he’ll take second place. But barring some extreme abuse of his arm, he’s not going to thrown the 90 innings necessary to displace Plunk at the top of that list. Still, it’ll be interesting to watch whether he can reach runner-up status.
The underlying lesson in all of this is that Allen has been really, really good for the Indians. I’d go so far as to call him our best closer of all time. Make no mistake, this guy is special, and we need to appreciate him while we can. So every time you watch him take the mound this season, just keep in mind that you’re witnessing a historically good reliever in a season with historical implications.
Photo courtesy of Erik Drost, via Flickr.