Baseball can do wonders to a man. Just look at former Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen.
Allen was one of the greatest relief pitchers to ever put on a Cleveland Indians uniform. The High Point University graduate was selected in the 23rd round of the 2011 MLB draft, after previously being selected in 2010 by the Cleveland in the 10th round of the MLB draft. Allen was coming off a great senior year, in which he went 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA, striking out 89 batters along the way.
Allen then worked his way up through the Indians’ farm system in 2011, starting out with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the Short-Season A-Ball New York-Penn League, and ending with the Kinston Indians. The very next year, Allen made his MLB debut, and took a loss in his lone save opportunity.
However, Allen was not done. He appeared in 27 games that year, and racked up an impressive 27 strikeouts, averaging a strikeout per game. The next year, Allen was two-for-four in save opportunites, but recorded a record of six wins and one loss in relief, and had the second-most pitching appearances in the American League (77).
In 2014, Allen’s career really took off, and he started to turn into the All-Star closer that the Cleveland faithful fell in love with. Opposing hitters could not catch up to Allen’s fastball, and Allen’s offspeed was just simply too nasty to hit. Allen totaled double-digit saves each year from 2014-2018. In 2014, Allen recorded 24 saves. In 2015, Allen recorded 34 saves, his single-season best so far. In the Indians’ run to the World Series in 2016, Allen recorded 32 saves, including one in the World Series. In 2017, Allen recorded 30 saves. In 2018, Allen recorded 27 saves, breaking the franchise record for saves in July 2018 but that was before Brad Hand, who was acquired from the Padres, took the closer spot due to Allen’s struggles.
Unfortunately for Allen, those late-season struggles in 2018 have followed him ever since. The Indians elected not to re-sign him after the 2018 MLB season, and went with Brad Hand as their closer. This turned out to be the right move, as Hand currently leads the AL in saves with 27. Allen signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason, before being released after recording four saves, no wins, and two losses, along with a 6.26 ERA, in 25 appearances. A big reason for Allen’s struggles? His fastball velocity has dropped.
The Minnesota Twins, however, took a chance on Cody Allen, signing him to a minor-league deal. Allen is currently playing on the Rochester Red Wings, where he has no wins and two losses in seven appearances, along with a respectable 3.38 ERA. In his time in the minor leagues in 2019, Allen has also started his first two games (one with the Fort Myers Miracle, one with the Red Wings). Maybe his full potential could be reached as a starter someday?
It does not appear as if Allen will close with the Minnesota Twins, as they have a respectable closer in Taylor Rogers. However, Allen could be brought up to the Twins to provide another solid arm in the bullpen and try to compete with the Indians, or maybe a rotation guy? Or does Allen get traded to a team in desperate need of a pitcher?
Wherever Allen ends up, I hope he is able to re-gain the same level of dominance that saw him as one of the best relievers in baseball. I just hope he does not dominate the Indians in the postseason this year.